Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane | @MichaelJBooks @sriya__v | #extract #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this novel is all about.

Author : Mary Beth Keane
Title : Ask Again, Yes
Pages : 388
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

| EXTRACT |

one

GILLAM WAS NICE ENOUGH but lonely, Lena Teobaldo thought when she first saw it. It was the kind of place that if she were there on vacation she’d love for the first two days, and then by the third day she’d start looking forward to leaving. It didn’t seem quite real: the apple trees and maples, the shingled houses with front porches, the cornfields, the dairy, the kids playing stickball in the street as if they didn’t notice their houses were sitting on a half acre of grass. Later, she’d figure out that the kids played the games their parents had played growing up in the city. Stickball. Hopscotch. Kick the can. When a father taught a son how to throw a ball, he marched that boy to the middle of the road as if they were on a block tight with tenements, because that’s where he’d learned from his father. She’d agreed to the trip because it was something to do and if she’d stayed in Bay Ridge that Saturday, her mother would have made her bring food to Mrs. Venard, who’d never been right since her boy went missing in Vietnam.

Her cousin Karolina’s dress was hanging on the hook behind Lena’s bedroom door, altered and ready for Lena to wear in just six days’ time. She’d gotten her shoes, her veil. There was nothing more to do other than wait, so when Francis asked if she wanted to take a little trip to check out a town he’d heard about through a guy at work, she’d said sure, it was a beautiful fall day, it would be nice to get out to the country for a few hours, she’d pack a picnic lunch. They unpacked that lunch on a bench outside the public library, and in the time it took to unwrap their sandwiches, eat them, sip all the tea from the thermos, only one person entered the library. A northbound train pulled into the station and three people got off. Across the town square was a deli, and next to it a five-and-dime with a stroller parked outside. Francis had driven them in Lena’s father’s Datsun—her brother Karol’s copy of Led Zeppelin IV stuck in the tape deck. Lena didn’t have a driver’s license, didn’t have the first idea how to drive. She’d assumed she’d never have to learn.

“So? What do you think?” Francis asked later as they eased back onto the Palisades Parkway. Lena opened the window and lit a cigarette.

“Pretty,” she said. “Quiet.” She slipped off her shoes and put her feet up on the dashboard. She’d put in for two weeks of vacation time—a week before her wedding plus a week after—and that day, a Saturday, was her first day of the longest stretch of days she’d had off in three years.

“You saw the train? There’s also a bus that goes to Midtown,” he said. She thought it a random piece of information until it hit her like a kick in the shin that he wanted to live there. He hadn’t said that. He’d said only that he wanted to take a spin in the car, check out a place he’d heard of. She thought he only wanted a break from all the wedding talk. Relatives from Italy and Poland were already arriving, and her parents’ apartment was packed with food and people every hour of the day. No one from Ireland was coming but some relation of Francis’s who’d emigrated to Chicago had sent a piece of Irish china. Francis said he didn’t mind. It was the bride’s day anyway. But now she saw he had a plan in mind. It seemed so far-fetched she decided not to mention it again unless he brought it up first.

A few weeks later, the wedding over and done with, their guests long departed, Lena back at work with a new name and a new band on her finger, Francis said it was time for them to move out of her parents’ apartment. He said that everyone had to tiptoe through the narrow livingroom if Lena’s sister, Natusia, was in there with her books. Karol was almost always in a bad mood, probably because the newlyweds had taken over his bedroom. There was nowhere to be alone. Every moment Francis spent there, he said, he felt like he should be offering to help with something, do something. Their wedding gifts were stacked in corners and Lena’s mother was always admonishing everyone to be careful, think of the crystal. Lena thought it was nice, a half dozen people sitting down to dinner together, sometimes more, depending on who stopped by. For the first time she wondered if she’d known him well enough to marry him.

“But where?” she said.

They looked on Staten Island. They looked within Bay Ridge. They climbed walk-ups in Yorkville, Morningside Heights, the Village. They walked through houses filled with other people’s things, their photos displayed on ledges, their polyester flower arrangements. On all those visits, Lena could see the road to Gillam approaching like an exit on the freeway. They’d socked away the cash gifts they’d gotten at the wedding plus most of their salaries and had enough for a down payment.

One Saturday morning in January 1974, after he’d worked a midnight tour plus a few hours of overtime, Francis got to Bay Ridge and told Lena to get her coat, he’d found their house.

“I’m not going,” she said, looking up from her coffee with her face set like stone. Angelo Teobaldo was doing a crossword across from her. Gosia Teobaldo had just cracked two eggs onto a skillet. Standing six foot two in his patrolman’s uniform, Francis’s face burned.

“He’s your husband,” Angelo said to his daughter. A reprimand. Like she’d left her toys scattered on the carpet and forgotten to put them away.

“You keep quiet,” Gosia said, motioning for him to zip his lip. “We’re having breakfast at Hinsch’s,” she announced, extinguishing the flame under the skillet.

“Let’s just go see, Lena. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“Oh, sure,” Lena said.

An hour and twenty minutes later, Lena pressed her forehead against the glass of the passenger window and looked at the house that would be theirs. There was a brightly lettered For Sale sign outside. The hydrangea that would flower in June was just a clump of frostbitten sticks. The current owners were home, their Ford was in the driveway—so Francis kept the engine running.

“What’s that? Are they rocks?” Toward the back of the property were five huge rocks, lined up by Mother Nature hundreds of millennia ago in ascending order, the tallest maybe five feet high.

“Boulders,” Francis said. “They’re all over this area. The realtor told me the builders left some as natural dividers between the houses. They remind me of Ireland.”

Lena looked at him as if to say, So that’s why you brought me here. He’d met a realtor. His mind was made up. The houses on that street— Jefferson—and the surrounding streets—Washington, Adams, Madison, Monroe—were closer together than the houses farther from town, and Francis said that was because these houses were older, built back in the 1920s when there was a tannery in town and everyone walked to work. He thought Lena would like that. There was a porch out front.

“Who will I talk to?” she asked.

“To our neighbors,” he said. “To the people you meet. You make friends faster than anyone. Besides, you’ll still be in the city every day. You’ll have the girls you work with. The bus stops right at the end of the block. You don’t even have to learn to drive if you don’t want to.” He’d be her driver, he joked.

He couldn’t explain to her that he needed the trees and the quiet as a correction for what he saw on the job, how crossing a bridge and having that physical barrier between him and his beat felt like leaving one life and entering another. In his imagination he had it all organized: Officer Gleeson could exist there, and Francis Gleeson could exist here. In academy, some of the instructors were old-timers who claimed they’d never in their thirty-year careers so much as drawn their weapons, but after only six months Francis had drawn several times. His sergeant had just recently shot a thirty-year-old man in the chest during a standoff beside the Bruckner Expressway, and the man died on the scene. But it was a good kill, they all said, because the man was a known junkie and had been armed. Sergeant hadn’t seemed the slightest bit concerned. Francis had nodded along with the rest of them and gone out for drinks when their tour was over. But the next day, when someone had to meet with the man’s mother and the mother of his children to explain to them what had happened since they wouldn’t leave the waiting room for anything, it seemed to Francis that he was the only one who felt rattled. The man had had a mother. He’d been a father. He hadn’t always been a junkie. Standing by the coffeepot and wishing the women would go the hell home, it was as if he could see the whole rest of the man’s life—not just the moment he’d foolishly swung around while holding his little .22.

And though he told Lena none of this, only that work was fine, things were busy, she sensed the thing he wasn’t saying and looked at the house again. She imagined a bright row of flowers at the foot of the porch. They could have a guest bedroom. It was true that the bus from Gillam to Midtown Manhattan would take less time than the subway from Bay Ridge.

If you would like to read more about Francis and Lena and the events that will impact their family for years to come, then why not grab yourself a copy of Ask Again, Yes as it’s available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Mary Beth Keane’s first novel, The Walking People (2009) was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her second novel, Fever (2013) was named a best book of 2013 by NPR Books, Library Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle. In 2011 she was named to the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35.” She was a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction and her new novel, Ask Again, Yes, is forthcoming in June of 2019.

Weekly Wrap-Up (August 18)

Summer has gone and done a runner. It’s been a miserable, windy and wet week and I do not approve in the slightest. I’ve been torturing myself by constantly checking the weather in Italy, where it’s lovely and warm, and keeping my fingers crossed that will still be the case when I arrive there in a few weeks.

Since I ran out of Hawaii Five-O episodes to watch [note to self : binge-watch slower next time], there seemed little else to do but read. And by read, I mean stare at hundreds of books on my bookshelves and declare I had nothing to read. 🤣

Meanwhile, the pile of books I will be taking with me on holiday has grown to … one. Yes, you read that right. One. Considering my hormonal reading mojo this year, you never know. It could be enough. Still, it’s good to be prepared for every eventuality, right? So I’m thinking I need a few more. I might be forced to do a panicky “grab-whatever-is-closest” on the day we leave. 😂

Anyway! No tv shows to watch and miserable weather. What’s a girl to do? Read, I guess. So here’s what I read this week.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

That’s not too bad again. I’m about 100 pages away from finishing another one but I got distracted.

For those who’d like to guess this week : one of those shot right up my list of “books of the year”. No, Kelly, you’re not allowed to play along 😜

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Well. I don’t know what happened here but apparently I bought none. What’s up with that?! Feel free to stage an intervention if this continues! 😂

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Nothing

Tuesday : Shared my review for Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Reviewed Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks

Friday : Again with the nothing

Saturday : Took this day off as well

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

You know something? I could totally get used to this!

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Extract | Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Tuesday : Review | Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Most likely nothing

Friday : Review | The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Slightly busier because I need to squeeze in the 20 Books of Summer challenge reviews before the end of the month. 😂

Speaking of that challenge, I’m currently reading my 18th book. I may yet nail this after all! I also reached the 150 mark of books read this year, which considering the up-and-down reading mojo makes me feel quite accomplished. And the year isn’t over yet!

That’s it for this week. I’m spending the afternoon with the mother-in-law. Again. She seems to be here a lot lately. I hope she’s not planning on moving in 🤔

Wishing you all a fantastic week and lots of happy reading! Until next time! xx

This Week in Books (August 14)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.

For Stella Harvey, the news is doubly shocking, as the body is found in the garden of her childhood home. The home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the Dorset island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.

But one thing rings true…
You can’t bury the truth forever. 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now.

They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.

Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin. 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Why yes, I am reading two books at the same time. Why no, I’m not making much progress on either one of them 😂

What are you reading this week? Do let me know in the comments! Happy reading! xx

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman | @rowancoleman @EburyPublishing @ChloeRose1702 @elliecrisp | #RandomThingsTours #recommended

I am absolutely delighted to kick off the blog tour for The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Rowan Coleman
Title : The Girl at the Window
Pages : 464
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication day : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh, be still my beating heart. What an absolutely glorious novel this is. Something about The Girl at the Window called out to me the minute I saw it mentioned on social media. Something that said I would love this story, without even really knowing what it was about. But I wasn’t prepared for just how much!

When Trudy’s husband fails to come back from a trip to Peru, she returns home with her son. But Trudy’s childhood home isn’t just any random place. Oh no! It’s Ponden Hall, a centuries old house in the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories, and one that was often visited by none other than Emily Brontë. It’s been sixteen years since Trudy last went home. Ponden Hall has fallen into disrepair and yet Trudy feels it is still the best place for her and her son to find a way to heal and maybe even somehow fix her relationship with her mother.

Just like Ponden Hall seems to have put some kind of spell on Trudy, The Girl at the Window put a spell on me. From the very fist page, I found myself utterly engrossed, almost enchanted and unable to put this novel down for even a second. It is just so immensely beautifully written, somewhat spooky, immensely moving and sometimes positively heartbreaking. I don’t often get emotional when reading a novel but I did with this one and often found it quite hard not to choke on the lump in my throat.

Part love story, part ghost story and part historical fiction, this haunting tale wormed its way into my heart and straight onto my list of “top books of the year”. These characters jumped off the pages. Highly realistic and believable, it was impossible not to go through every range of emotion with them. I’m purposefully not giving anything away about the historical part of this novel, as it’s something you need to discover for yourself but I will say, it is brilliantly done and the mysteries surrounding Ponden Hall had me truly hooked.

The Girl at the Window is magical, haunting, moving and just …. wow! I was incredibly sad to see this story coming to an end, to be honest. I felt a little bereft and would have been quite happy to spend lots more time at Ponden Hall with Trudy and her family, searching through all the nooks and crannies. For surely this great house hides many more secrets and ghosts.

I don’t think my review is doing this novel justice at all. It’s one of those special ones. One of those stories where I just can’t find the words to describe how much I loved it. A novel to treasure. Highly recommend it. I’m not sure what more I can say. Loved it! Did I mention that? ❤️

The Girl at The Window is available to buy in ebook format. The paperback will be published in August.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family.

Rowan’s last novel,The Summer of Impossible Things, was selected for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club.

Rowan has an everlasting love for the Brontes, and is a regular visitor of Ponden Hall.

After The End by Clare Mackintosh | @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK @millieseward | #bookreview #AfterTheEnd

Author : Clare Mackintosh
Title : After The End
Pages : 384
Publisher : Sphere / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| MY THOUGHTS |

This is such a hard review to write but I imagine not nearly as hard as it must have been to write this novel.

Max and Pip face one of the toughest decisions any parent could possibly face. Their three year old son, Dylan, is brain damaged due to complications from a tumour. Max and Pip are one of the strongest couples you’re bound to meet but now, they find themselves on opposite sides as each tries to decide for themselves what’s best for Dylan.

After The End is a novel I had to read in bits and pieces, for fear of choking on the huge lump in my throat. The author deals with a highly emotional topic and it all feels incredibly realistic, moving and extremely heartbreaking. The story is split into two parts, the before and after. The reader is offered an insight into Dylan’s circumstances and the many long days Pip spends at his bedside. The tiny slivers of hope and the plummeting realisations when things go downhill felt like a rollercoaster. There are also the wonderful friendships parents form with each other on the ward, the support they give each other and yet it must be so incredibly hard to watch another child make a recovery and ultimately leave for home when your own child lies unmoving in their bed.

The “after” in the story is split in two. The reader follows both Pip and Max but in alternative storylines. Each has to deal with the decision they made regarding Dylan’s future. Was it the right one? How can you ever know? Will their marriage survive when so many do not?

I must admit that my feelings for this novel were also split in two. I thought the first part of the story was exceedingly compelling and I was right there with the characters on the ward, trying to figure out what I would do in that situation. But the second half of the story started to lose me somewhat. It seemed a bit repetitive at times and while I was still rooting for the characters to come through it all, I didn’t find this second half as gripping as the first half.

Nevertheless, After The End is a beautifully written story about a marriage put under strain in the most difficult of circumstances and facing an impossible choice. A remarkable departure for Clare Mackintosh, who you may know from some excellent psychological thrillers. This was quite obviously a story that she needed to tell and she did it in the most wonderful way possible. Not an easy story to read, yet one that will remain with me forever.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

After The Lie is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor | @melaniecantor @TransworldBooks | #blogtour #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to join the blog tour for Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy!

Author : Melanie Cantor
Title : Death and Other Happy Endings
Pages : 300
Publisher : Bantam Press
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid. 

Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.

At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Something somewhat different on my blog today. Far removed from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I tend to read, it was the book description for Death and Other Happy Endings that immediately appealed to me. Who doesn’t just want to let go and really tell people what you think of them?

Jennifer Cole is told she has an incurable disease and only has three months left to live. What would you do? Pull out a bucket list and cram as much as you can into those ninety days you have left? Or take a good, long look at the life you’ve led so far; the good and the bad? Jennifer decides this is the perfect time to write letters to her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend and her sister. Three people who have been immensely significant in her life, but who have also let her down and maybe Jennifer has let them get away with just that little bit too much. Finally, she feels the time has come to tell them how she really feels about them. After all, she’s dying and won’t have to face the consequences, right? But there are a few surprises in store.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this story would be absolutely depressing but I promise you, it’s really not. A lot of that down is to the character of Jennifer, who is absolutely delightful. From the very first page, I already knew I was going to love her to bits. As heartbreaking as the news about her diagnosis is, there was something about her personality that immediately drew me to her. Even while sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving bad news, she somehow managed to make me laugh.

It’s remarkably easy to imagine the feeling of liberation Jennifer has when she finally posts the three letters. It almost made me feel slightly jealous, thinking I too would love to tell some people a few home truths. Although preferably without a death sentence hanging over my head. Why is it that we often don’t or wait until it’s too late?

Death and Other Happy Endings is a moving, yet witty and heartwarming story about relationships, friendships, life and regrets. I absolutely adored this book. I found it immensely enjoyable and entertaining, yet also quite thought-provoking. This is a truly delightful debut from Melanie Cantor and I would have absolutely no problem shoving my crime fiction and thrillers aside to read more by her.

Death and Other Happy Endings is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes. 

In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign. 

She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland | @HelgaFlatland @OrendaBooks | #blogtour #AModernFamily #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Modern Family by Helga Flatland. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy!

Author : Helga Flatland (trs Rosie Hedger)
Title : A Modern Family
Pages : 250
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When Liv, Ellen, and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships, and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change.

| MY THOUGHTS |

This novel is the perfect example of why I love doing blog tours as much as I do. It isn’t exactly the type of book I’d normally go for. In fact, I was rather worried it wouldn’t be my thing at all. But Orenda Books has never let me down before and as I have the utmost faith in their books, I decided to go for it. Didn’t regret it for a second!

On a trip to Italy to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, Liv, Ellen and Håkon’s lives are thrown into turmoil when their parents reveal their decision to get divorced. Each must now come to terms with the changes that will bring.

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. Yet the feelings they are struggling with were immensely relatable. It’s easy to forget sometimes that your parents are just people too, with their own thoughts, opinions and feelings. How well do we ever really know our parents and the life they lead when we aren’t around? Just because they don’t argue in front of us, doesn’t mean they don’t argue in private, for instance. Watching the siblings struggle with their parents’ divorce made sense. In effect, it is a safety net that has vanished and for Liv especially, who tried to model her own marriage after her parents, things fall apart rather quickly. If her parents can’t make their marriage last, how can she?

A Modern Family is a beautifully written story about relationships and the shifting of family dynamics. It delves deep into the psychology of these characters and shows remarkable insight as the characters start to analyse, not only themselves, but also those closest to them. I often found myself nodding at some of the things that were said and you just can’t help reading this and subsequently put your own family under a magnifying glass. With complex characters and issues, this beautifully written story soon became utterly immersive and that is no mean feat when you realise there are no bells and whistles, no twists and turns, but just everyday people dealing with everyday problems.

A Modern Family surprised me in the best way possible. Moving, powerful, thought-provoking and immensely absorbing, it paints a wonderful and realistic picture of a family going through the ups and downs of modern life.

A Modern Family is published tomorrow and available for preorder!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors.

Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize.

She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater | @MichaelJBooks | #blogtour #extract #excerpt

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater today! My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this novel is all about.

Author : Carol Drinkwater
Title : The House on the Edge of the Cliff
Pages : 448
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provencal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

| EXTRACT |

Beyond gently billowing muslin curtains, the windows were open wide, exposing a waxing crescent moon hanging midway in the sky. It was a little after five in the morning, and I was awake. My head resting on Peter’s chest, I tuned in to his heartbeat. Its speed was alarming. In spite of his daily medication, it still beat disconcertingly fast. By com-parison, my ticker is an old plodder. I lifted myself to a sitting position. Peter was sleeping, sighing and moaning.

‘My darling, please get well.’

I have always been in the habit of rising early. When the house is silent, I slip out for a long walk and a swim, like a full-sail galleon scudding across a cloudless sky, leaving my cares behind me. But during these anxious days, these fretful days of waiting for Peter’s operation, once out of bed I dally, hang back before heading for the beach, watching over my husband until I feel secure about leaving him.

This early-May morning, my knees tight against his side of the bed frame, I gazed upon him. Peter, my beloved, swathed in a twisted, sweaty sheet. He was fight-ing for equilibrium. His heart had become his enemy, hammering furiously at him. It pained me to observe his suffering, his visible decline. I bent low to him, stroked his shoulders, reassuring him of my love, while taking care not to disturb him. I crouched, laid my cheek against the fleshy part of his upper arm, softly kissing it. I inhaled him, the night on him. The heat, the worry sweat. He claimed he was not apprehensive about what lay ahead, but I would have argued otherwise. I was witness to his unsettled dreams.

I am the spectator, tuning in to his restlessness.

Throughout his waking hours, I had begun to remark a new expression in Peter’s eyes. A fixed stare, glassy, as though his pupils had glazed over or been coated in a thin layer of varnish. This focus disguised his fear, blocked it out, blocked me out. Peter was pushing me away, which, according to his logic, was to protect me. He believed that he was sheltering me from his terror, or sheltering himself from my terror, my inability to confront the worst possible outcome: his death.

I dreaded losing my husband, his heart packing up without warning, ‘worn out by strain’, in the consultant’s ominous words. Snatched from me while he was sleeping or, when the appointed day arrived, while he was under sedation. A being submerged beneath the effects of medication who would never awaken.

I refused to compare it to the past, to the first time I had lost someone, a lover who never resurfaced, the years it had taken me to come to terms with it.

Had Peter made the connection, cast his mind back to 1968, ‘our first summer’ together at this house, our long, carefree days together on this beach? Until calamity had struck.

It had come as no surprise to me that Peter was diag-nosed with atrial or supraventricular tachycardia, SVT. He had lived his life at a supersonic pace, in the turbo lane. He had travelled ceaselessly, worked incessantly, handled and triumphed over high-profile legal cases, which had won him a coveted international reputation and the honour of a CBE. However, alongside the acknowledgements came high stress levels. His caring heart carried the burdens of those less fortunate, those whose liberties he fought for and won. In his juridical field, few reputations, if any, surpassed Peter Soames’s.

Long-haul flights were his norm, sometimes once or even twice a week. He was always out of bed by five thirty a.m. no matter when we had turned in the night before. Even after we had stayed up till two watching a movie, he had set his phone alarm for five. And then he’d switch it off and roll over for half an hour, indulging in his ‘lie-in’.

I longed for him to slow down. Some days I felt as though I’d never catch hold of him, never pull him by his shirt tails and draw him in slow motion back to me, begging, ‘Hey, what’s the rush? Bide time with me.’

I turned now from the bedside and pattered to the open window, leaning my elbows on the sill, mesmerized by the swallows dipping and circling above the pink-tinged beach. I loved this time of year, with the first stirrings of summer ahead. I loved this old cliff house built high into its scrubby hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. Heron Heights. Peter had inherited it, this rather splendidly eccentric sunlit villa, from his late aunt, an artist, Agnes Armstrong-Soames. Yes, the painter. The very same.

I loved the privacy, the isolation, the villa’s distance from the nearest town. Our lives here have become secluded, our world privileged. The environment has cocooned me, allowed me to feel safe, even from the past. My past. Our past. The tragedy that took place here too long ago to remember. Except that I do remember. I have never allowed myself to forget it, but I have forgiven myself. Forgiven myself for the foolish, brainless role I played in someone’s death.

Peter and I never talk about it, never allude to it. That long-ago midsummer night.

But what happened on that long-ago midsummer night? If you’re intrigued and you’d like to find out more, The House on the Edge of the Cliff is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Anglo-Irish actress Carol Drinkwater is perhaps still most familiar to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. A popular and acclaimed author and film-maker as well, Carol has published nineteen books for both the adult and young adult markets. She is currently at work on her twentieth title.

This Week in Books (June 5)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Penny and Hattie are sisters in a small town, bound tight to the point of knots. They share a secret they cannot escape, even while it pulls them apart.

One night, a match is lit, and Penny’s terrible husband is killed – a marriage going up in flames, and offering the potential of a new life. The sisters retreat into their family home – a house of secrets and memories – and try to live in the shadow of what they put in motion. But Penny’s husband is not the only thing they are hiding, from the outside world and from each other.

Under a cloud of long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid, the bonds of sisterhood begin to crack. How long will Penny and Hattie demand the unthinkable of each other? How often will they say, “You owe me,” and when will it ever be enough? 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

We all know them. Those who exist just on the fringes of society. Who send prickles up the back of our neck. The charmers. The liars. The manipulators. Those who have the potential to go that one step too far. And then take another step.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living from these people. Each week she broadcasts a radio show looking into the past lives of convicted killers; asking if there was more that could have been done to prevent their terrible crimes.

Then one day she is approached by a woman desperate to find her missing friend, Cassie, fearing her abusive husband may have taken that final deadly step. But as Jessamine delves into the months prior to Cassie’s disappearance she fails to realise there is a dark figure closer to home, one that threatens the safety of her own family . . . 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

When Liv, Ellen, and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

For those who follow my Sunday wrap-up posts and are keeping track of my reading, I would like to point out that I am currently reading my third book of the week. If you have any bets going on how many books I’ll read this week, now might be the time to have a think on wether or not I’ll get to four (or higher) by the weekend 😉😂

Anything here you’ve read and loved? Anything you’d like to read? What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

This Week in Books (May 29)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘ 

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband. 

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected. 

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

Anything catching your eye? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx