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Abi Morgan -This is Not a Pity Memoir #bookreviews #positiveonly #5* #audiobook #bbcsounds

MY VERDICT? I love using the BBC Sounds app for audio books when I’m out walking the dogs, so was very pleased to find Abi Morgan’s compelling memoir on there. What a book! Heartwrenching, darkly humorous in parts, honest and moving. Beautifully narrated by Nicola Walker. 5*.

THE BLURB: One morning in June, Abi had her to-do list – drop the kids to school, get coffee and go to work. Jacob had a bad headache so she added ‘pick up steroids’. She returned home and found the man she loved and fought and laughed with for twenty years lying on the bathroom floor.

And nothing would ever be the same again.

But this is not a pity memoir. It’s about meeting your person. And crazed late night Google trawls. It’s about the things you wished you’d said to the person that matters then wildly over-sharing with the barista who doesn’t know you at all. It’s about sushi and the wrong shoes and the moments you want to shout ‘cut’. It’s about the silence when you are lost in space and the importance of family and parties and noise.

It’s the difference between surviving and living.
It’s a reminder that, even in the worst times, there is light ahead.

Listen on BBC Sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0c63xnz

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Kristin Hannah -The Four Winds #bookreviews #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? Elsa is an intriguing character whose resilience is at the core of the story. Although the story catalogues a series of depressing events, it’s an ultimately uplifting book. I found the historical details particularly interesting. An excellent 5* read from an author who never disappoints.

THE BLURB: The Four Winds is a deeply moving, powerful story about the strength and resilience of women and the bond between mother and daughter, by the multi-million copy number one bestselling author of The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah.

She will discover the best of herself in the worst of times …

Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli had finally found the life she’d yearned for. A family, a home and a livelihood on a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds.

Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonizing decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Loreda and Ant, west to California in search of a better life. Will it be the land of milk and honey? Or will their experience challenge every ounce of strength they possess?

From the overriding love of a mother for her child, the value of female friendship and the ability to love again – against all odds, Elsa’s incredible journey is a story of survival, hope and what we do for the ones we love.

Buy from Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-four-winds/kristin-hannah/9781529054583

The Four Winds
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On A Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk #bookreview #randomthingstours #blogtour #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? Charming, funny and unashamedly escapist fiction. This really made me laugh! There were so many great lines and hilarious, relatable episodes in this book. Fran Cooper is an engaging, if slightly infuriating, heroine. For an intelligent and capable woman, she has a mile wide blindspot as far as her awful, controlling boyfriend, Stew, is concerned, and I’m sure some readers will take issue with that. But even though she came across as a bit of a naive doormat, I read her as a woman stuck in a rut she doesn’t know how to climb out of…until true romance arrives. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it to anyone who would like to escape to the glam and glitzy Crystal Ball for a few hours. Thanks to the author and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.
When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins. Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…

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Call of the Penguins by Hazel Prior #bookreview #randomthingstours #blogtour #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? A heart-warming and hugely engaging character driven story that doesn’t shy away from exploring some deeper issues. Veronica McCreedy is an instantly compelling character and the supporting cast – Patrick, Terry, Daisy to name a few – are equally brilliantly drawn. What made this book stand out for me was the underpinning environmental message – clear and heartfelt, but at no point heavy -handed. It’s a beautiful, clever book that works on so many levels. I highly recommend it. Thanks to the author and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .
Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea. But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife. More specifically, a love for penguins! And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance. Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings. Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?

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The Flat Share – Beth O’ Leary #bookreview #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? I loved this! I don’t read much (hardly any) romance fiction, but this completely engaging story drew me in and kept me turning the pages. Leon and Tiffy are such different characters with such distinct voices. The writing is so vivid it was easy to imagine them and the cast of side-kicks, evil employers and assorted characters. Despite the humour, this definitely isn’t a frothy read and in Tiffy’s toxic relationship with Justin, the writer presents a tricky topic very sensitively.
THE BLURB: Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-flatshare/9781787474413Buy from ukbookshop:

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Beyond the Veil Ed. Mark Morris #bookreview #randomthingstours #blogtour #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? Ever since I was a Point Horror obsessed teen, I’ve loved reading fiction that deals with the darker side of human nature. And if it comes with a supernatural twist, then I absolutely want to read it. The stories in the ‘Beyond the Veil’ collection satisfy on both counts and have a bang up-to-date feel, with references to the pandemic, killer viruses and anti -vaxxers. The near future world of Beechfield Miracles may have roots in ancient stories, but is juxtaposed with a post -Brexit nightmare world that feels uncomfortably close to the bone. Polaroid and Seaweed is the most revoltingly gothic, with some truly uncomfortable scenes that induce a sense of revulsion. Clockwork had an Angela Carter feel that I loved. The God Bag ends with a twist that seems inevitable, but is no less horrifying as it explores bad parenthood, a theme considered in several of the stories. Standouts for me were The Dark Bit, a grotesque psychological study of self harm and collective hysteria, and A Mystery for Julie Chu. The latter has a Black Mirror -esque feel with secret auctions, haunted objects and a lead with a gift. I’d love to read more of her adventures! Thanks to Flame Tree Press, the anthology authors and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: SOME TRUTHS CAN’T BE TOLD.
Beyond the Veil is the second volume in an annual, non-themed horror series of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer, and edited by Mark Morris. This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window.

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A Mother Never Lies – Sarah Clarke #bookreview #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? Whoa! I genuinely could not put this down. I love dual narrative stories, especially with distinctive voices, and Ben and Phoebe’s pitch – perfect perspectives added to the twistiness of this complex plot. I also love domestic noir, so this hit the spot for me on every count. Highly recommended.

THE BLURB: SOME TRUTHS CAN’T BE TOLD.
I had the perfect life – a nice house, a loving husband, a beautiful little boy.
But in one devastating night, they were all ripped from me.
It’s been fourteen years, and I’m finally ready to face the past.
I’m taking my son back.
He just can’t know who I am…or why we were torn apart.
A nail-biting thriller packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Shalini Boland.

Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mother-Never-Lies-gripping-psychological-ebook/dp/B097CPSGNW/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

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Sleep Tight – CS Green #bookreview #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? I have a real love for books with a supernatural twist. Combine that with a quirky heroine and a cracking plot, and I’m in book heaven. ‘Sleep Tight’ ticks every five star box. Can’t wait for DC Rose Gifford’s next case.

THE BLURB:Even in your dreams you’re not safe…
The nightmare is only just beginning…
When DC Rose Gifford is called to investigate the death of a young woman suffocated in her bed, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the crime than meets the eye.
It looks like a straightforward crime scene – but the police can’t find the killer. Enter DS Moony – an eccentric older detective who runs UCIT, a secret department of the Met set up to solve supernatural crimes. Moony wants Rose to help her out – but Rose doesn’t believe in any of that.
Does she?
As the killer prepares to strike again, Rose must pick a side – before a second woman dies.

Buy from ukbookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/sleep-tight-a-dc-rose-gifford-thriller/9780008390761

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All the Lonely People – Mike Gayle #bookreview #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? I loved this! Books with two time lines always hit the spot for me, and this was no exception. The depiction of loneliness seems especially poignant after the lockdowns. This book certainly had all the feels.

THE BLURB: In phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun and friendship. But Hubert Bird is lying. Something has made him turn his back on people, and he hardly sees a soul. So when his daughter announces she’s coming to visit, Hubert faces a race against time: to make his real life resemble his fake life before he’s found out.
Along the way Hubert renews a cherished friendship, is given a second chance at love and even joins an audacious community scheme. But with the secret of his earlier isolation lurking in the shadows, is he destines to always be one of the lonely people?

Buy from ukbookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/all-the-lonely-people-a-warm-life-affirming-story-from-the-author-of-the-richard-and-judy-bestselling-half-a-world-away/9781473687387?aid=3892

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The Doll – Yrsa Sigurdardottir #bookreview #positiveonly #5*

MY VERDICT? I wasn’t disappointed by this creepy atmospheric story and the twists and turns of the plot kept me racing through the pages. I hadn’ t realised it was part of a series, but it made sense as a standalone and now I’m going to read the rest. I love discovering a new favourite author.

THE BLURB
: It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever.

They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared.

Several years later and Detective Huldar is in his least favourite place – on a boat in rough waters, searching for possible human remains. However, identifying the skeleton they find on the seabed proves harder than initially thought, and Huldar must draw on psychologist Freyja’s experience to help him. As the mystery of the unidentified body deepens, Huldar is also drawn into an investigation of a homeless drug addict’s murder, and Freyja investigates a suspected case of child abuse at a foster care home.

What swiftly becomes clear is that the cases are linked through a single, missing, vulnerable witness: the young girl who wanted the doll all those years ago.

Buy from Hive: https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Yrsa-Sigurdardottir/The-Doll/24124018