Old & Ugly by C L Moir

First I have to gush about how lovely looking and feeling this book actually is. The cloth binding makes the book feel really old and just that little bit special.  It fits perfectly in your hands as you flip through the pages,  This book is certainly not ugly looking.

Old and Ugly by [C L  Moir, Owen Lawrence]

I flew through the pages as I settled in the garden with my gin in the sunshine. I am fairly sure my neighbours thought I was a little on the crazy side as I chuckled away to myself.  There is certainly a whole raft of laugh out loud moments to enjoy.

Everybody that reads this book will fall in love with the character of Ange.  She’s a one time beauty queen but over the years her weight has rocketed as well as the wrinkles but deep inside she is ever the Diva.  She is glorious and the author painted her so well, that I can still picture her now in my mind.  The rolls of fat pouring over her delicate little shoes. 

Ange, very reluctantly is forced to join in with a reunion.  The group of friends have not seen  each other in 40 years and the years have been kind to no-one but they find themselves slipping back into the old camaraderie, especially after the gin is flowing rather too freely.

The relationship between Ange and Elizabeth is brilliant.  The friends say it like it is, no holding back.  Each offends each other at a ridiculous pace and takes the punches on the chin. Despite the unkind words it’s clear that this is a friendship that will always stand the test of time.

Ange is aghast at seeing Spencer again.  He married her friend Elizabeth but there is a dark past between the two and it’s not long before Ange is plotting is murder.

Although this book is very light hearted and comical there is a slightly darker element,  It’s quite clear that Ange is depressed.  Her numerous husbands and lovers have dragged her down over the years, before discarding her, claiming that they could no longer deal with her increasing demands.  Deep inside all Ange wants is to be loved.

I really hope that the author is able to deliver more from these characters as I would love to find out what escapades the get up to next.

This is a wonderful book and I would like to thank Behind the Hat Press for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review. 

 Author: C L Moir

Publisher: Behind the Hat Press

Publication Date: 15th June 2020

Synopsis

In 1973, teenagers Ange and Elizabeth are persuaded to enter the Miss Sladport-on-Sea Beauty Pageant by local entrepreneur, Spencer. When Ange is crowned the most beautiful woman in Sladport, Spencer promises her a life of fame and fortune – which he delivers. Within months, Ange is crowned The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Forty years later, Ange is unexpectedly invited to a reunion of old friends: Elizabeth – now married to Spencer – and the three school friends who stormed the pageant, throwing flour bombs and insults in protest at its objectification of women.

Ange has been invited to a reunion…

Old and Ugly is the story of that reunion – and the story of Ange’s life.  Hilarious and laughable, conceited and fearful, feisty and (some might say) a fool for the admiratio of men.  Ange must finally confront the truth about her fantastical life of glamour and good fortune to be freed from it’s secrets – and freed from the man who made her, then broke her.

Irreverent and moving, disturbing and joyful, you’ve probably never read anything quite like it…

Purchase Link

https://www.behindthehatpress.com/product-page

No Precedent

I am going to admit that I was a little nervous about reviewing this book, I knew that religion and politics featured.  I am not a great follower of politics and prefer keeping my opinions to myself on these matters, the same goes for religion however I need not have worried as although they feature they actually enhance the story and I found myself nodding along with some of the very valid points that the author raised.

This book was far, far more than politics and religion, this is very much a heartwarming family read.  Bob, starts the narration as we meet in St Chad’s graveyard.  He sets the scene of his much loved family both past and present and I immediately warmed to the character and felt very much a part of the family.  Meeting with his old friend, Paul, they have spent their lives very much at odds with each other and have a love hate relationship. 

The viewpoint then switches to his wife, Wendy.  She is much younger then Bob and has her own past.  Both Wendy and Bob have been married before and now with Bob in his later years they have a young family together to contend with. Bob also has his older children to keep involved with.

This story is very much about a coming together of the extended families for periods of celebrations in their lives.  Each Chrustmas and Easter they meet and it’s never without it’s dramas and fallouts.

We then add Lucy to the mix.  Lucy meets Paul and Bob in the local pub and very much becomes a part of their lives along with her wayward daughter Maddie.  Their family story is far from smooth and this certainly brings up plenty of conflict and talking points within the story.  

This book is set around the Brexit period and it’s interesting to hear each of the characters viewpoints on the ongoing situation.   There is a very apt extract that I would now like to share. 

“What, with the possibility of Trump and Brexit?” Wendy replied. “I doubt it I’ve a horrible feeling it starts here.”

“And with climate change, not that Britain can do much about it, I’m pretty sure we will meet a very wet end. “ I said. “Or there will be a plague that just kills off humans.”

There were sections in this book that made me laugh and others that made me cry.  I’m not sure I will be able to forgive the author for the heartbreaking ending.  I read the final chapters through a mist of tears and I did actually shout out loud,  “How could you do that?”  

I would like to finish my review by thanking the author for portraying a truly authentic modern day family.  The complicated relationships that are so true to nowadays set ups with re-marriages and same sex relationships no longer frowned upon this was a realistic but highly enjoyable read.

Many thanks to John Uttley and Helen Lewis at Literally PR for allowing me to read a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest review. 

Author: John Uttley

Publication Date: 1st Jult 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Synopsis

The northern grammar school pals Bob Swarbrick and Richard Shackleton are back, now facing the era of Brexit, Momentum, Coronavirus and Donald Trump. For the first time in their lives, Bob and Richard struggle to see the meaning of it all.

The trials and renewals of Where’s Sailor Jack? (John Uttley’s debut novel released in 2015) behind them, they find themselves in a world whose faith and politics have moved beyond their sphere of influence and feel increasingly cut off from their roots.

Bob, now settled with Wendy, must reconcile old memories and new children while Richard must save his family from themselves. Along the way, they are adopted by the lascivious Lucy Fishwick and her predatory daughter Maddie, whose lives are as mad and chaotic as the radio play Lucy is trying to write and, indeed, the world itself.

But despite the coming plague, it doesn’t look like Armageddon. There is to be an apocalypse, but one of personal dimensions. We don’t all go together when we go!

About the Author

John Uttley was born in Lancashire just as the war was ending.  Grammar school educated there, he read Physics at Oxford before embarking on a long career with CEGB and National Grid Group.  He was Finance Director at the time of the miners’ strike, the Sizewell Inquiry and privarisation, receiving an OBE in 1991.  Shortly afterwards, he suffered his fifteen minutes of fame when he publicly gave a dividend to charity in the middle of the fat cat furore.  Following this, he took an external London degree in Divinity while acting as chairman of numerous smaller companies, both UK and US based.  He is married to Janet, living just north of London.  This is his second novel, based on the characters of his first, the much-loved and critically acclaimed Where’s Sailor Jack?

Website: johnuttleyauthor.com/

Twitter: twitter.com/JohnRUttley

Facebook: facebook.com/uttleyauthor

Purchase Links

Bad Magic By A.M. Stirling

This book was creepy, sinister and very unsettling.  I was warned that this book was not for the faint hearted from the start but in a dark kind of way I loved it. From the very first page where we meet Richard I knew I would be on an intriguing journey.  What I am going to say next I mean in the nicest kind of way but I actually hated every single character in the book.  However, that just added to my enjoyment. 

Image preview

Richard, in parts of the story I did feel a little sympathy towards him however, he’s just a creepy loser that I felt really needed to grow a backbone. His parents died young and his Grandmother, Jane raised him. He also spent some time in Canada with his Aunt and cousin Amanda.  Amanda bullied him in more ways than one and  she came up with the nickname that has stuck, ‘Little Dickie.’  Rather than stand up to her he is mesmerised by her and this is his ultimate downfall. Their relationship was dark and complex and went beyond all the boundaries.

Amanda’s mum has died in slightly suspicious circumstances so she’s moved back to England and taken up residence in her Grandmother Jane’s house.  Amanda swiftly sets to take control of her grandmother and it’s not long before she’s taken over more than just her health needs.

Richard is a failing gallery owner.  He’s Grandmother is his constant bail out and if it wasn’t for her cheques then his gallery would be dead on its feet.  His girlfriend Catherine is a bit of a pushover and she’s the only person that Richard feels he can control but even then we soon see a darker side to Catherine as she gets fed up with his low life treatment of her and she makes a stand against him.

The love hate relationship is intriguing and keeps the pace of the book flowing.  When Amanda is found dead after a long heavy night of drinking, the finger of blame is pointed at Richard and he has to set out to clear his name.  

I would like to finish my review with a reference to a passage that stuck out to me and pretty much this resonates throughout the book:

“Richard found himself slipping into telling the story about the deer in the headlights, and how his father had served to avoid it.” Richard spends his whole life being the deer in the headlights.

I enjoyed this book but it is not for the faint hearted and there are some colourful scenes and language in the book so if you are easily offended this may not be for you.  I would like to thank Emma Welton (damp pebbles blog tours) and A.M.Stirling for allowing my to read a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis

When Richard meets his cousin Amanda for the first time in twenty years, he’s still afraid of her; she bullied him throughout his childhood and sexually abused him when they were teenagers. He owns a struggling art gallery that only survives because his wealthy grandmother pays for it. But now Amanda’s back in his life, things look set to change. She’s out to make trouble, drugging Richard with Rohypnol, faking a burglary and trying to persuade their grandmother to change her will. Richard’s heard a rumour she murdered her mother. Fearing for his grandmother’s life and his inheritance, he decides to give Amanda a dose of her own medicine.

About the Author

Image preview

A. M. Stirling has had a varied career as a freelance photographer, an artist with several national and international exhibitions to his name, and an academic. After harbouring an ambition to write fiction for far too long, he completed an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in 2012.

Bad Magic is his first published novel. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMStirling1 Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/A-M-Stirling/e/B07XQJGMHJ/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1916160107/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0 Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Magic-M-Stirling-ebook/dp/B07XQ4TVS6/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=bad+magic+by+m+stirling&qid=1575372711&sr=8-2

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and ebook formats by Wom

Image preview
Image preview

The Phone Box at the End of the World

The first thing I loved about this book was the intriguing title and then when I saw the cover I knew it was a book that I really wanted to read.  I was thrilled to receive a proof copy of this book and I have to say it is as wonderful as the title. It’s a powerful and emotional journey that when I finished the last page left my deep in my own thoughts but also in a strange way very uplifted.  When the worst happens in life there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World

I have to confess that I was working from home whilst reading this and let’s just say I am glad no-one at work knows about my book reviews.  That day I got very little work done as I set up my work station with the book carefully placed at the side of my laptop and I read a lot more than I worked. Whoops.

The story is inspired by a real place, there really is a disused phone box located in a beautiful Japense garden where thousands of people visit every year to speak to their loved ones.  Their conversations blowing out into the wind and reaching up to heaven. Just the thought of this place brings a lump to my throat.

This is such a beautiful thought that even though we have lost people that little phone box brings so much comfort and helps people to deal with their grief.  It’s also a place of hope and healing.

The character Yui, hears of this place via a radio programme that she was airing and it struck a chord. She was still struggling with the grief of losing her mother and young daughter to the 2011 tsunami.  She’d spent a month in a school gymnasium on a sheet of canvas measuring two by three metres with 120 people each desperately searching for their loved ones.  Eventually all hope was gone and she’d had to try to pick up the pieces of her life.

Yui sets off to find the phone box unbeknown of the effect it would have on her life.  On the long journey she meets with Takeshi, he’s lost his wife and is left caring for his young daughter Hana.  They arrive at the garden and whilst Yui cannot bring herself to speak into the phone it brings comfort just to be in the beautiful place. Over the months a friendship forms that grows stronger every day, until Yui has to admit that she has fallen in love with Takeshi and he with her.

Suzuki San the guardian of the garden, is suddenly taken ill and has to leave to go into hospital.  With a terrible storm brewing Yui makes the journey back to the garden to secure the phone box for him. She is so focussed on her task that she fails to see she is putting her own life in danger. 

Although this was a heartbreaking story ithe effect on me was very uplifting.  To know that that even in the darkest of times there is a way of getting back through to the light.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for my ARC.  This is in no way had an impact on my review.

Author: Laura Imai Messina

Publication Date: 25th June 2020

Publisher: Manilla Press Bonnier Books

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel to it from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.

When you’ve lost everything, what can you find . . ?

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Why have I never heard of this author before now? This book literally knocked me off my feet and as I finished the last page I was instantly searching for more of her work to purchase.  Sadly, this is her debut so there was nothing else. What a debut to make. Astounding! I will certainly be first in the queue for the next book she releases but for now I’d better tell you all about  the amazing book I have just read.

This is sinister, fast-paced, creepy and so very very dark.  The subject of paedophiles is a subject matter that is not for the faint hearted but the author covered this subject in a sensitive and touching way.  I have to confess there were times that I had to put the book aside for an hour just to gather my thoughts but I was soon diving back in.

We start the book at the scene of a brutal attack.  13 year olds Nina and Heidi often escape to their bunker, a secret place where they can hang out and share secrets but one fateful day Nina is found brutally murdered and her body left next to a savagely beaten Heidi. Despite the odds Heidi manages to survive but she is so badly traumatised that for a while she is left mute and she  mentally blocks out the attack. Her younger sister, Anna is abducted from the scene and is still missing.

Now, 15 years later memories are starting to re-surface.  Denise was an officer involved with the case from the start and over the years she has become a close friend to Heidi. As Heidi memories return Denise, manages to get the case reopened but not everyone is happy about it.

The story flips from the current day back to the time just before the attack. This really keeps the tension built in the story as we really get to know and warm to the 2 friends.  Their family lives are gently revealed and the characters really come to life. Nina does not have the easiest childhood and is very savvy and streetwise.  On the othe hand, Heidi leads quite a sheltered life and her intentions are only to help Nina but her actions place Nina in more danger then she could have ever thought possible.

I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away but as the plot thickens it’s clear that there is more to he murder then meets the eye,  

The crime is not the work of a single person.  This is a paedophile ring with numerous players involved.  Each of the men are guilty in my eyes and each needs to be punished.  They are running scared that the truth is about to be revealed. But with friends in high places they are confident that they got away with it once and they can do it again but they haven’t banked on Denise who will stop at nothing to get to the truth.

This was a book that I couldn’t relax with, rather than slumping into my sofa I spent most of the time on the edge of my seat, totally engrossed in this gripping read.  I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone that loves gritty, dark storylines.

Publication Date 25th June 2020

Author Rebecca Kelly

Publisher Agora Books

Synopsis

What if you knew the truth but couldn’t remember?
Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and
her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her
friends and family and no recollection of the crime.
Now, it’s all starting to come back.
As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long
kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

About the Author

Rebecca Kelly was brought up with books but denied the pleasure of a
television. Although she hated this at the time, she now considers it to have
contributed to a life-long passion for reading and writing.
After a misspent education, Rebecca had a variety of jobs. She’s spent the
last years raising her children but has lately returned to her first love – writing.
Rebecca lives in the UK with her husband and youngest son and an overenthusiastic black Labrador, who gives her writing tips.

Purchase Links

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

This is a gentle, sweeping love story.  It made me laugh out loud in places and brought a lump to my throat in others. A story of heartbreak, healing and putting others first. It’s  beautifully told and despite the sadness it actually left me with a lovely heart-warming feeling. This is not a genre I overly read but in these uncertain times it was a book that I was drawn to and really enjoyed.  I am not a big believer in true romance, all the  hearts and flowers kind of love just doesn’t do it for me.  Yes I am an old cynic but this book touched my softer side that I so often keep hidden. And, yes i did have a little cry at the end. 

The Sight of You: the love story of 2020 that will break your heart

It was never Callie’s dream to work in a cafe but it was best friends Grace’s dream. When her best friend suddenly died Callie immediately vowed to keep her dream alive.  When Joel walks in one day she is instantly drawn to him and he to her but he keeps his distance.  He has vowed to himself that he will never fall in love. Having said that he can’t help popping in most days just to see her.

Joel has dreams.  Dreams that come true and far from being a gift they leave him tortured.  He has tried everything to evade going to sleep and when he meets Callie he is just drifting through life. He has left his job as a vet and spends his days walking his elderly clients dogs.

By chance, Callie ends up renting a flat above Joel and despite trying to keep his distance, Callie draws him in and it’s not long before they have moved in together, Callie is the love of his life but when he dreams of her death he is distraught.  Raising the conversation with Callie she tells him that she does not wish to know how long she has left to live and the walls start to build between them.  Joel struggles to keep this information from her but he knows that he must respect her decision.

Slowly, they grow apart and he encourages Callie to leave him and follow her dream.  Heartbroken Callie moves out and flies off to Chile to live her long life dream of visiting a nature reserve and seeing for herself a rare bird.  From there she sets off to discover Europe. She writes postcards to Joel which she doesn’t send.  She wants him to know that if the worst happens that she loved him and has lived her life to the full.

Callie, meets Finn and although she will always love Joel a new relationship blossoms and they end up having a fairy tale wedding whilst on honeymoon Callie discovers that she is pregnant,  But the years are passing and Joel knows that all too soon Callie is to leave this world.  He has kept his promise to her but she is the love of his life and he has to make a last attempt to save her.

I loved both of the characters in the book.  Each chapter is told through either Callie or Joel’s point of view and it works to create this beautiful moving story.  Joel is a good man but his demons are just too heavy from him to carry at times hence the reason that he will forever remain a single man.  

Author: Holly Miller

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Publication Date: 11th June 2020

Synopsis

Would you choose love . . .

. . . If you knew how it would end?

Joel is afraid of the future.

Since he was a child he’s been haunted by dreams about the people he loves. Visions of what’s going to happen – the good and the bad. And the only way to prevent them is to never let anyone close to him again.

Callie can’t let go of the past.
Since her best friend died, Callie’s been lost. She knows she needs to be more spontaneous and live a bigger life. She just doesn’t know how to find a way back to the person who used to have those dreams.

Joel and Callie both need a reason to start living for today.
And though they’re not looking for each other, from the moment they meet it feels like the start of something life-changing.

Until Joel has a vision of how it’s going to end . . .

Growing up For Beginners by Claire Calman

This is a book I  didn’t  want to end and yep, I fear the book hangover that is sure to follow. When I picked up this story it was like snuggling up with a hot chocolate in your comfy pj’s, the world around me stopped for a brief moment whilst I was totally enveloped in the characters lives.  It was an uplifting and hopeful story that filled all of my senses and left me feeling smug that each character got exactly the ending they deserved.

This was not the fast paced read that I usually enjoy but a much more calm, flowing book that got under my skin. Each of the characters touched me for very different reasons.

Conrad is a very imposing figure at the British Museum.  He retired 10 years ago but still heads there numerous times a week as though he’s not actually left.  He is the central character that each of the story lines branch off.  Conrad has spent most of his life in a fairly loveless marriage.  An affair saw him meet the love of his life and yet he gave up his chance of happiness to deal with his teenage son who was slowly going off the rails.

His daughter Elenor is portrayed as a meek and mild pushover.  Her children have flown the nest and she spends her days running around and being at the constant beck and call of her bully of a husband, Roger.

Roger, he is vile, arrogant, pompous and full of his own self worth. To be honest I really just wanted to punch him, slap bang on the nose.  The little mind games and tricks he played on Elenor although so subtle did so much harm.  Don’t even get me started on what he did to her books.  My blood was boiling but he gets the ending he deserves as does Elenor when she finally grows her backbone and stands up for what herself.  

Then there is good old Andrew, he works at the museum and was assigned by Conrad to restore damage to one of his much loved personal portraits.  Poor old Andrew all the way through the book I just wanted to hug him.  He’s bumbling through life, at 35 he’s a bit lost and finds himself having to move back in with his parents.  It’s his worst nightmare but could he have found love in the local coffee shop?

I could go on and on about this book all day.  It was very much character driven and I just loved the feeling that I was not just reading about the characters but that I was very much involved in their ups and downs. I totally fell in love with this writers’ style and I am looking forward to reading more of her work. 

I would like to thank Netgalley for allowing me to read an ARC of this wonderful book.

Author: Claire Calman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 4th June 2020

Synopsis

It’s not easy being a grown-up, but at 47, Eleanor hoped she’d be better at it by now…
When Eleanor waves her daughter off for a gap-year trip, she finds herself stuck as a satellite wife, spinning in faithful orbit around her domineering husband, with only her clever but judgmental father Conrad for comfort.

Andrew isn’t mastering the art of growing up either. But when he finds his belongings dumped in bin bags on the drive, even he can see that his girlfriend is hinting he should move out. With no other options, he moves back in with his parents.

Backing onto their garden lives artist Cecilia, living in chaotic clutter and dreaming of her ex-lovers, still acting like a stroppy teenager at the age of 66.

Four lives are drawn together by long-buried secrets of the past, and it is time for them all to grow up… before it’s too late.

Take my Hand by Kerry Fisher and Pat Sowa

Reading this at a time when the world is going a little bit crazy has really helped me put into perspective what is important in life.  The things that I am currently dealing with are staying in, staying safe and spending more quality time than I have in a while with my two beautiful children.  I cannot imagine for one second having to deal with the loss of either of them. 

There are some books that I read that touch me far deeper than others and I know I will be thinking about this book in months, even years to come. The lymphoma aspect also really hit home, on a personal level, my own dad was diagnosed with this 15 years ago and I have seen first hand the devastation that this disease causes.  I cannot imagine watching a child go through this. The courage and bravery that was shown both in the way the illness was treated and how he still was able in a small way to be allowed to be a teenager is truly inspirational.

Despite the story being truly heartbreaking, it was written in such a way that even though the loss and grief was soul destroying there was also a much needed  sense of humour, a need to fight and a friendship that I can see has only grown stronger. The extracts of text messages between the friends that are shared in the dialogue really struck a chord.  The dark humor, the brutal honesty and the knowledge that even when you are the very bottom someone has your back and is there for you even at 3 am is a rare thing to find.

Kerry and Pat met at university through the years they have gone their separate ways but despite living miles apart the friendship had never weakened. They had no idea that they would need each other more than they could have dreamed.  Both of their teenage sons became ill around the same age and at about the same time. It was their friendship that shone through and made this such a hard story to read.  To know that when times are darker then they have ever been that there is someone there for you without any strings is so important.

Both of the stories take different paths and I don’t want to give any spoilers but how either of these inspirational ladies found the strength to get through this and come out the other side is quite awe inspiring.

When I put myself forward to read and review this book I knew I was letting myself in for an emotional read but I wasn’t quite prepared for the anger that this also brought out in me.  The children had totally different illnesses yet I expected that whatever the illness a parent would be allowed to be as involved in the child’s care in the same way.  How wrong was I?  I was angered that a parent with cancer can be very much involved in decisions and yet mental health issues it is quite the reverse.  How can a parent with a child that has cancer be so involved with their care and yet a child with a mental illness is treated effectively as an adult? The parent has to have permission from the child as to what they can actually know.  This to me is so wrong on all levels and I hope and pray that in time things change and the sooner the better.

This was a hard book to read however more than finding it all doom and gloom I also found it very uplifting.  To see how the grief was and is still being dealt with,  To see how the friendship has deepened and grown stronger.  I am sure that neither of these ladies will ever get over the tragedies they have gone through but I hope that they can move forward in their lives.  I for one am very grateful that they shared their story and it is one that I will always remember.

I would like to say a massive thank for to Kim Nash and Thread Books for my advanced reader copy. This is an unbiased review based 100% on my reading experience.

Authors: Kerry Fisher and Pat Sowa

Publication Date: 28th May 2020

Publisher: Thread Books

Synopsis

In this heartfelt, brave and honest account, Kerry Fisher and Pat Sowa share everything they’ve learnt from surviving the darkest of times. They shine a light on what it really feels like when your world shatters and how they found hope in the deepest despair.

Best friends since they met at university, Kerry and Pat had no idea that thirty years later, they’d need every ounce of their friendship to survive. In 2017, their worlds came crashing down when their teenage sons were both diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses within weeks of each other.

During the following rollercoaster months, Kerry and Pat regularly snatched time to message each other – often with black humour – providing a momentary refuge from their frightening realities. Together these two ordinary mums found a way to survive their extraordinary challenges and to navigate a new normal in an alien and isolating world. With raw honesty, they share the things they’ve learnt and what they wish they’d known – from how to tame raging mother guilt to restoring their natural optimism in the aftershock of tragedy.

In this profoundly moving book, Kerry and Pat take readers on a very personal exploration of the universal experiences of grief and loss, love and friendship that connect us all. Like a wise companion offering comfort, Take My Hand is a lifeline both to those overwhelmed by heartbreak and for friends and family who don’t know how to help. Most of all, it’s a powerful reminder that no matter how difficult life gets, you are not alone.

Mummy’s Boy by JA Andrews

This was a brilliant debut and from the first page I was drawn into the complex life of Patricia.  I can say that this book had everything I loved, Strong, complex characters that I both loved and hated,  The tension of the story was kept all the way through and the unexpected twists for me came out of the blue and really kept me eager to pick up the book in any spare few minutes I had. 

Mummy's Boy by J.A.   Andrews

Tricia appeared to have it all,  The perfect family. A lovely house in an idyllic village, she didn’t have to work as her husband worked all hours in his taxi to provide for her but Tricia is dealing with lots of demons and when her son disappears without a trace her world well and truly falls apart.

It’s been three long years since she last saw her son.  Every year on his birthday she makes a birthday cake and slowly gets drunk on the Vodka.  Thomas her husband is all too aware of his wife’s issues but is blinkered to the full severity of her drinking,

The story is told from Trisha’s point of view as we learn about her childhood, her difficulties with her own parents and how these have shaped the person she is today and then from Thomas her husband who fills in the blanks.  We also have a third person narrative that sneaks in occasionally and really throws the truths unto the air.

I don’t want to say too much about the actual storyline as it would be difficult not to give away any spoilers but I will say this is a fast paced, dark and twisty story.  I am really looking forward to reading more of this authors’ work.

Author: J A Andrews

Publisher: Hera

Publication Date: 1st April 2020

Synopsis

Patricia Mullner is trapped in a nightmare no parent should ever experience. Three years ago, 17-year-old son Andrew vanished without trace. There was no note, no goodbye and no body has ever been found, and now her days are spent in a fog of heartache and alcohol, crying to husband Thomas about their lost boy.

But Patricia is more than just a grieving mother, and as Andrew’s disappearance starts to unravel the perfect family she’s built with Thomas, it seems that the actions of her past may be back to haunt her.

Because someone is watching from the shadows – someone who knows exactly what Patricia is hiding. Someone who will stop at nothing to take revenge – and might just hold the key to Andrew’s disappearance…

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

Having previously read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandell I was really looking forward to reading more of this author’s work.  This was nothing like Station Eleven but having said that I still really enjoyed this book and loved the atmospheric writing style of this author.

The Glass Hotel by [Emily St. John Mandel]

I would generally have little interest in the story line as it centered around a financial collapse which I have little knowledge about and I have to admit that this is not a subject that I am overly enthralled with, however I enjoyed this book due to the haunting, atmospheric setting and the way that the story enfolded as we were drawn into each characters life kept me engaged throughout the book.

I loved the character of Vincent.  She was a free spirit and a law unto herself.  Losing her mother at a young age, she drifted through life before finding herself as a bartender at the luxurious and remote Hotel Caiette.  A hotel cut off from the world and the only access, a boat trip from the mainland to the little old Pier.  Wealthy businessmen used this as a place to escape the world and when Johnathon came to stay she had no idea that she would fall into the world of the wealthy and go on for a short while to be able to afford everything that she could ever imagine.  She soon learnt that these luxuries came at a price.

This was not a book I could totally relax with as it did demand a fairly high level of concentration to follow the script and it wasn’t a book that I could read for a long period of time as I needed to take regular breaks to digest the information that had been provided however all in all I did enjoy this book and the authors writing and descriptive setting was outstanding.

Synopsis

Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.