Friday, 28 July 2017

All The Good Things by Clare Fisher - Blog Tour

Hardcover, 280 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Viking, Penguin UK
With thanks to Penguin UK for sending me an advance reader's copy of this book.

Blurb:

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

My Review:

This is a book that examines the grey areas in life and how hardship can push people to their breaking point.

The story is told between the present, where Beth is in prison, to the past, showing how Beth's life progressed. From trouble with foster parents, to issues at school and being thrust into the working world and supporting herself independently from a young age; Beth had a hard life. However, her counsellor Erika asks her to try to remember the good things in life and in doing so we realise there is more to Beth than meets the eye and Beth learns that too.

Most of the characters in this book frustrated me but at the same time I could see how they had become the way they were.

Beth's voice is very distinctive in the book, seeming both very young and older than her years. Her naivety and lack of knowledge about things everyone should have the right to know shocked me. Her crime wasn't a surprise but the journey of how she reached that point was heartbreaking.

This was an interesting, emotionally charged read and an apt social commentary which deserves discussion. I would give it 3 out of 5.

About the Author:

Clare Sita Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

An avid observer of the diverse area of south London in which she grew up, Clare's writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is her first novel. She now lives, writes and works as a bookseller in Leeds.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Paperback, 548 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (first published October 2016)

Blurb:

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.





"There is a fire raging, and we have two choices: we can turn our backs, or we can try to fight it. Yes, talking about racism is hard to do, and yes, we stumble over the words - but we who are white need to have this discussion among ourselves. Because then, even more of us will overhear, and - I hope - the conversation will spread." - Jodi Picoult

My Review:

A few of my friends and I have started a little book group where we have chosen a few books each and are alternating each month between each others' choices. My friend Megan chose this book and I was initially a little reluctant to read it. I have read many books by Jodi Picoult in the past and I have enjoyed them all. However, I have found that they can be quite exhausting as they deal with such difficult issues. I didn't have that problem with this book. While it dealt with very difficult, relevant issues, I was engrossed and couldn't put the book down. When I finished I was left with my eyes open but not overwhelmed. This book deals with the fact that while race relations have improved massively in the last hundred years, there are still a lot of prejudices in society and outright racism in some circumstances which for the most part is ignored.

The story is split between three perspectives: Ruth, who is a midwife at the hospital where the baby died; Turk, the baby's white supremacist father; and Kennedy, the defence lawyer for the case. The author wrote with sensitivity from all perspectives. However, it was hard to stomach reading the sections from Turk's perspective. The outright prejudice and racism from him and those around him made me really angry while I was reading it. Ruth's perspective was enlightening as she encounters racism on a daily basis. Kennedy's perspective was also enlightening as she gets to know Ruth and is confronted with the harsh reality of the situations Ruth dealt with every day.  The relationship between Ruth and Kennedy was really interesting and I liked how it progressed through the novel.

In light of current events, it seems more important to me than ever to focus on the similarities between people rather than differences and to remember we are all human and have the right to expect the same treatment wherever we go.

Small Great Things is fast-paced and gripping. This is an incredibly moving and powerful story that has opened my eyes to the prejudices that still exist in our society today. I can't recommend this enough; it should be required reading! 5 out of 5.

About the Author:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-three novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - Blog Tour

Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 20th 2017 by Harper Collins
With thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review.

Blurb:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

My Review:

Let me start by saying I love the cover for this book. It's so pretty and I like that different parts of the cover are raised to add texture to the book.

This book reminds me a little of P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern, but instead of a husband speaking to his wife, this is a mother trying to reunite her daughters who have refused to speak to each other for over a decade by leaving a collection of messages and memories to try to remind them of what it means to be sisters.

The story is told from the past and present, leading from the girls' childhood through to the event that divided them for years. It also told through the letters, videos and cassette recordings Andrea leaves for them to try to bring them back together.

I think my favourite character in this was Andrea, even if she was speaking from beyond the grave. Her warmth, humour and vitality leap from the page and her messages were very moving. I also liked her friend Lewis who supports her to the end and beyond and is the kind of friend we all hope to have. Rose and Poppy on the other hand were quite frustrating. They have gone to opposite extremes of their personalities so that they are not living their lives to the full.

I'd be interested to know what other people think about the reason for the rift between them; as upsetting as I could imagine it was, I thought that Rose overreacted to be honest and was a hypocrite about it all. This meant that I felt more sorry for Poppy than for her. Although Rose did also have to cope with some difficult relationship problems.

Despite my frustration over the reason for the rift, I really enjoyed following their story. This is a funny and poignant story of love in all its forms and I would give it four out of five.

About the Author:

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Publication: 15th June 2017
Series: From Manhattan with Love #5
With thanks to NetGalley for sending me a copy to review.

Blurb:

The perfect summer escape…?

Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him – too gorgeous, and still too good for her – and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in The Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the perfect way to escape her past…

Their relationship might only have lasted a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss – if she’s run away to The Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her…

My Review:

I have been a fan of Sarah Morgan for a while now and I am absolutely loving her current series of books called From Manhattan with Love! Although this is the fifth book in that series, you can read them as stand-alone books. It is nice to know the whole story though as characters from the previous books appear frequently and it's like meeting an old friend and finding out what they're up to. You don't have to just assume that characters get happy-ever-afters with Sarah Morgan, you can see for yourself when they turn up in different stories!

Holiday in the Hamptons follows the story of Fliss who has a traumatic past which she holds so closely to herself that she can't deal with it or move past it. When Seth, who was a part of her past, appears in her life again, she takes the opportunity to see her Grams to try to avoid him. But it couldn't be that easy! This is an emotional story which deals with some heartbreaking topics, but as ever with Sarah Morgan's books, there is such a warmth to the story that it is very enjoyable.

I always enjoy the close sense of family and friendship in Sarah Morgan's books and this is no exception. I really liked Seth's character and his determination to get through to Fliss despite his own pain. I liked Fliss too, but her determination to take everything on herself was understandable but a bit frustrating. Grams and her friends were a lovely bit of light relief - and their tactics to bring Fliss and Seth together really made me laugh!

This is a lovely, romantic book, it gets 4 out of 5 from me.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated 5 times for the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

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Website: www.sarahmorgan.com


Friday, 2 June 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Published by HQ, 1st June 2017
Hardback £12.99, eBook, Audio Edition £12.99
With thanks to Midas PR and the author for sending me a review copy of the book.

Blurb:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

My Review:

This is a heartfelt, emotional story of a girl's mission to take care of the only thing that mattered to her from a time of great difficulty.

Ginny is a very likeable, determined character and I thought that the author wrote very cleverly to portray the different thought processes of someone who is autistic. Obviously these may not be the same for everyone, but as an example, I liked the way Ginny couldn't answer if anyone asked her more than one question at once, they had to ask one question at a time or she would get confused about what they wanted. Ginny's story has definitely highlighted to me the daily challenges that autistic people may face with communication.

This book also highlights the challenges of adoption and raising an autistic child. I really felt for Ginny's "Forever Mom" and "Forever Dad" as Ginny could be difficult to handle. However, the attitudes of the mum also frustrated me a lot at times. Although some of her reactions were understandable, I felt like she stopped trying to understand Ginny for a while and that upset me a bit.

The pace is a little slow at times and there were also a few elements of the story which didn't wrap up as well as I'd hoped, however the story was gripping. Unfortunately, I did guess Ginny's secret pretty much immediately, but that did not stop this from being an insightful, moving and entertaining read, which also handles the issue of abusive parents and the social care system tactfully.

I would give this 3 out of 5.

The Author
Benjamin Ludwig is a middle school language arts teacher, who has been teaching both children and adults since 1997. He believes strongly in supporting the voiceless and the displaced, especially their need for attachment. Shortly after he and his wife were married they became foster parents, and adopted their first placement: a teenager with autism and developmental disabilities. Ginny Moon was inspired in part by conversations he had with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. He hopes to adopt again after his daughter transitions into adulthood. Benjamin lives in New Hampshire.


You can read other reviews on the blog tour using the information below.