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.

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

Picture of Innocence by T.J. Stimson | @tessjstimson @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K | #blogtour #bookreview

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Picture of Innocence by T.J. Stimson. My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : T.J. Stimson
Title : Picture of Innocence
Pages : 404
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : April 18, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

You love your family. You’d never let anything happen to them… would you?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Maddie is busy, busy, busy. With three children under the age of ten and running a sanctuary, she is tired. Oh, so very tired. Maddie has a wonderful support network in family and friends but when her baby is hurt, everyone suddenly turns into a suspect. Was Maddie so exhausted, she harmed her own child? Or was someone else responsible?

Picture of Innocence is part psychological thriller and part truly heartbreaking family drama. It’s immensely emotional seeing a family go through the hardships Maddie and her family have to deal with. Combined with chilling and disturbing chapters set in the past, this quickly turned into a gripping and absorbing read.

It’s incredibly easy to imagine the paranoia Maddie goes through from sheer exhaustion. I’m sure many of us can relate to that kind of fatigue that seems to settle in your bones, that causes such a massive fog in your brain that you just can’t think straight. When that happens, it’s not hard to jump to conclusions, to be forgetful, to mistrust those around you because they make you feel like you’re going crazy. Maddie doesn’t trust anyone, including herself.

This well-paced story once again brings to the fore the debate of nature versus nurture. That’ll never get old, will it? I find it extremely fascinating and in that respect, this book is perfect for a discussion on the topic. That includes the ending in the “what would you have done?” kind of way.

I did figure things out, yet found myself wishing I was wrong in that way that nobody wants to think someone could purposefully hurt a child. This story deals with some dark and harrowing topics, turning things into quite an emotional ride. With plenty of twists and turns, Picture of Innocence is a gripping tale that will keep you glued to the pages.

Picture of Innocence is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tess Stimson is the British author of ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.

Her first “proper” job after graduating from St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News). She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe.

In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #recommended

Delighted beyond words to host a stop on the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for the fabulous review copy!

Author : Louise Beech
Title : Call Me Star Girl
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda
Publication date : April 18, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Thoughts? Ha! Bloody hell, I don’t know. I can’t even begin to think of any words. I hurt. Way deep inside, like an awful physical pain that makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball under the duvet and just weep.

Louise Beech is one of maybe two authors who always manages to make me cry in the ugliest way possible. So when I heard she had gone down the dark path and written a psychological thriller, I felt relieved and my first thought was how I wouldn’t need to stock up on tissues and explain to my other half why my eyes were so red. There’s only so many times you can use the “I was chopping onions” excuse, you know.

How wrong I was. How massively wrong to think for just one second that Louise Beech would somehow stick to the “rules” of this genre. Because we all know by now this is an author who doesn’t fit neatly into a labeled box and neither does Call Me Star Girl. I was expecting something dark and boy, did I get that! But despite all the warnings, I was not prepared for how devastating this story would turn out to be.

Such incredible characterisation, such complex and multi-layered personalities, so many secrets and throughout it all a stunning Noir vibe, feeling like I was watching an old black and white movie and then the utterly exquisite writing, which just pulls you in, sweeps you up and away, becoming so immersed you forget everything and everyone around you, all the while stirring something deep inside. Call Me Star Girl is intensely compelling, emotional, memorable and thought-provoking. What would you do for love?

This is the kind of novel that causes book hangovers. I don’t know where to go from here. My heart is broken and nobody is able to elicit those kinds of emotions from me but the amazingly talented and incomparable Louise Beech. Wherever she goes, whatever she writes, I will follow her without a moment’s hesitation.

Call Me Star Girl is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019.

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson | @LauraPAuthor @AgoraBooksLDN @TheyCallMePeyto | #blogtour #NobodysWife

Delighted to join the blog tour for Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson today! My thanks to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Laura Pearson
Title : Nobody’s Wife
Pages : 267
Publisher : Agora Books
Publication date : March 28, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

‘Of the four of them, only three remained. And there was no going backwards from there.’ 

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I absolutely loved Laura Pearson’s debut Missing Pieces, even though it left me in bits. So I was quite eager to read Nobody’s Wife, wondering if I would once again be reaching for the tissues.

Sisters Emily and Josephine have always been close but their bond has only become stronger since their mother moved to the other side of the world. Now Emily is getting married and Josephine may have found “the one” as well. Naturally, changes are afoot as they both embark on a new adventure in their lives. But neither one is prepared for what happens next.

From the very beginning, Laura Pearson managed to draw me in with realistic and believable characters in relatable situations. While Emma has doubts and suffers from nerves on her wedding day, Josephine tries to figure out the sometimes complicated beginnings of a new relationship. But everything soon starts to fall apart.

It’s obvious from the prologue that something has happened that affects these characters’ lives and the what, how, why, who is slowly revealed throughout the storyline. Laura Pearson’s writing is extremely beautiful and the characters evoked quite a few emotions from me. I felt angry and frustrated at some of their decisions, saddened as well and I became completely caught up in their lives, feeling for everyone involved and having this sense of impending doom.

Nobody’s Wife is an emotional story of love, obsession and betrayal that has devastating consequences. Life often does not come wrapped up in a tiny little bow. In case you wondered, no, no tissues required this time around but I did have problems swallowing past the lump in my throat. Because no matter how I felt about these characters and their actions, or lack thereof, at times it seemed as if I was right there next to them, feeling their pain.

There seems to be something almost effortless about the way Laura Pearson writes. Everything flows quite naturally and it’s always touching and moving, without the distraction of bells and whistles, reaching down into your very core, leaving you wanting to hug those closest to you really tight and never let them go. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Nobody’s Wife will be available to buy on March 28th.

 Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers @steph2rogers1 @BooksManatee @Tr4cyF3nt0n #blogtour #TheDarkPlace

Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

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Author : Stephanie Rogers
Title : The Dark Place
Pages : 266
Publisher : Manatee Books
Publication date : September 27, 2018

aboutthebook

When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

mythoughts

Oooh, this is a dark one! You know, in case the title didn’t give you a clue. 😉

When Issy takes her own life, her parents’ lives are turned upside down. Not only do they need to deal with their grief, but they’re also raising Issy’s young son. Jon and Mel don’t for a second believe Issy would leave little Noah behind and they are determined to discover what really happened to her. Did she really commit suicide or was it an accident? And if she did mean to die, why? It soon becomes apparent Mel and Jon didn’t really know their daughter at all.

I must say this didn’t at all turn out the way I expected it to but that was a good thing! For some reason, I was thinking this story would be predictable and it really isn’t. I soon found myself fascinated by the family dynamics, watching Mel and Jon deal with their grief in their own ways and wondering how things would develop and if their lives would fall apart completely. But it’s not just Issy’s parents that are affected. There are an aunt and uncle, cousins and a lorry driver who was present at the scene where Issy died.

I wasn’t at all prepared for the range of emotions I went through reading The Dark Place. From anger and a sense of disbelief to having a massive lump in my throat and shock. The kind where you just have to sit back for a minute and go “shiiiiiiiit”. The journey Mel and Jon go on to find out the truth about their daughter isn’t a pleasant one. Issy was hiding some incredibly dark and disturbing secrets. Some of the sensitive topics may be uncomfortable to some readers. But I felt the author did a fabulous job tackling them.

This is a gripping, compelling and intense story about family, loss, grief and how well we know the people that are closest to us. It’s a harrowing read for sure and it had me second-guessing everything and everyone. This is a tense and sadly all too believable scenario and I will definitely not be forgetting Issy’s story in a hurry. What a remarkable debut from Stephanie Rogers.

The Dark Place is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

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The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd @HilaryBoyd @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 #blogtour #TheAnniversary

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Author : Hilary Boyd
Title : The Anniversary
Pages : 403
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin UK
Publication date :

aboutthebook

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation? Should the past remain the past? Or are some loves simply meant to be?

mythoughts

Here is something I often wonder about. A relationship fails, people move on and live their separate lives, and then one day, sometimes even decades later, they find each other again and decide to give things another go. Why? Do people change that much? What happened to the thing that made them split up in the first place? Is it no longer an issue?

Meet Jack and Stella. Once happily married, they have now been divorced for over two decades. Jack has remarried, Stella has a longtime partner and they haven’t seen each other in years. But now their daughter needs help and Jack and Stella will be bumping into each other on a regular basis, whether they like it or not.

There’s an especially devastating event that caused their marriage to hit the rocks back in the day. Neither has dealt with it particularly well. This is definitely the case for Stella, who has built a rock solid wall around her heart to protect herself. But this behaviour has had an effect on a lot of people, including her daughter. And for myself, as the reader, I found her quite hard to warm to.

The Anniversary is an emotional story about family, grief and loss with complex characters trying to navigate through complicated relationships. Any child of divorced parents knows how difficult it can be to have both parental units in the same place but in this case, there is also a massive elephant in the room and a need to somehow let go of the past.

This novel has you rooting for the characters and wishing for a happy ending. Although maybe not all that surprising with regard to the plot, it’s the characters that make this a wonderfully immersive and poignant read.

The Anniversary is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Hilary Boyd was a nurse, marriage counsellor and ran a small cancer charity before becoming an author. She has written eight books, including Thursdays in the Park, her debut novel which sold over half a million copies and was an international bestseller. The film rights have been acquired by Charles Dance, who will be directing and starring.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Him by Clare Empson @ClareEmpson2 @orionbooks #Him #NetGalley

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Author : Clare Empson
Title : Him
Pages : 352
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : August 23, 2018

aboutthebook

Catherine has witnessed something so traumatic that she can’t speak. Or won’t speak.The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past.

Catherine needs to start with HIM .

Fifteen years ago she met Lucian at university and fell into a passionate love affair. They were meant to be together forever. But something happened. Something that destroyed them.

Catherine married someone else. Had two children. She moved on – or so she thought. Now Lucian is back, showing her how different life could have been.

But going back to the beginning won’t change the ending.
In fact, it might be the thing that finally breaks her…

mythoughts

This didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would. I was expecting a psychological thriller and while it does have some of the elements of that genre and a bit of a mystery to solve, at its core Him is a love story gone badly, oh so badly, wrong.

Catherine doesn’t talk. She suffers from elective mutism after witnessing a traumatic event. It all has to do with “him” but the why takes a while for the reader to discover.

Fifteen years ago, Catherine met the dashing Lucian at university. Theirs was a passionate love affair but then Catherine breaks up with Lucian. No explanation or anything. She just disappears and refuses to talk to him ever again, leaving Lucian utterly devastated.

But her obsession with him and what life could have been like by his side continues through the years, through a marriage and the birth of her children. This is a love that can’t be forgotten or denied, but also one with devastating consequences. What exactly happened when Catherine met Lucian again four months ago?

This story switches back and forth between events from fifteen years ago, four months ago and the present day. This may sound a little all over the place but it’s really not. It’s done incredibly well and never gets confusing. Slowly but surely, the pieces of the puzzle come together.

I found the characters hard to connect with though. Lucian and his friends are an elitist and snobbish club of rich and privileged people that Catherine never really quite fits into. Yet some are drawn to them like moths to a flame. And while Catherine wonders what her life would have been like had she stayed with Lucian, I was wondering how different her life with her husband, Sam, could have been had she been able to let Lucian go. To be honest, Sam was the only person I was able to muster up any kind of sympathy for.

Him is a dark and tragic tale of love, obsession and guilt. Despite it’s relatively slow pace, this character-driven story is rather gripping and at times incredibly sad. I was desperate to know why Catherine stopped talking and if she’d ever utter another word again. I enjoyed it but I found the psychological thriller label a tad misleading so my advice to you is to go in with an open mind and let Catherine take you on a moving journey through her memories.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

Him is published today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Celeste Ng
Title : Little Fires Everywhere
Pages : 388
Publisher : Abacus
Publication date : April 10, 2018

aboutthebook

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

mythoughts

Welcome to Shaker Heights. A place where rules and regulations are plentiful, from the paint colours on the house exteriors to how long the grass on your lawn is allowed to grow. Where everything is meticulously planned and following the rules will undoubtedly lead to a successful life. Or so they say. It has quite the Stepford Wives vibe to it and I disliked the neighbourhood from the start.

Enter Mia and her daughter Pearl. From the beginning, it’s obvious these two free spirits will shake up Shaker Heights. Mia is an artist with a mysterious past and after extensive traveling, she’s decided to stay put in Shaker Heights with her daughter.

The story kicks off when someone sets fire to the house of the Richardson family. The who isn’t much of a surprise, the why is a different story altogether. Set in the 1990’s, Little Fires Everywhere tackles a number of topics from abortion to adoption. Most of all, its focus is on motherhood. From a custody case that will divide the community to how mothers see their children, encourage them or hold them back. Life in Shaker Heights will change dramatically.

I found the beginning quite slow. It didn’t seem like much was happening and it took me a while to get into the story. However, Celeste Ng’s writing is phenomenal, incredibly absorbing and immersive as you follow these characters, get to know them better and try to figure out where your loyalties lie. Even though the pace stays pretty much the same throughout the story, I became utterly invested in these characters’ lives.

My only misgiving is the open-ended conclusion. Things didn’t quite turn out how I expected them and I was left with questions I really wanted answers to. I wouldn’t mind at all if Celeste Ng decides to revisit some of these characters again some time. Little Fires Everywhere is a character-driven, wonderfully written family drama. If, like me, you pick this one up and you struggle in the beginning, do yourself a favour and keep going. It’ll be worth it, I promise!

Little Fires Everywhere is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

 

Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry @JLPerryAuthor @millieseaward @LittleBrownUK #blogtour

It’s my pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry today! My thanks to Millie Seaward at Little Brown UK for the invitation and the beautiful review copy!

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Author : Jodi Perry
Title : Nineteen Letters
Pages : 381
Publisher : Sphere | Little Brown UK
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

What would you do if the love of your life had no memory of you?

The 19th of January, 1996 . . . I’ll never forget it. It was the day we met. I was seven and she was six. It was the day she moved in next door, and the same day I developed my first crush on a girl.

Then tragedy struck. Nineteen days after our wedding day, Jemma was in an accident that would change our lives forever. When she woke from her coma, she had no memory of me, of us, of the love we shared.

That’s when I started writing her letters. The stories of our life. Of when we met. About the happier times, and everything we’d experienced together.

mythoughts

Lately I’ve been very much about broadening my horizons where my reading is
concerned. Of course, I love my crime fiction but sometimes it’s quite nice to try something different and cleanse the palette, so to speak. Hence why I gladly accepted the invitation to read Nineteen Letters.

Admittedly, there were a few moments at the beginning where I wondered what I’d gotten myself in to. I’m not really the romantic type, I’m married to an even less romantic guy. Surprise bouquet of pretty flowers, what’s that? And surely when you book a weekend away, that’s just an excuse to bring a suitcase of books?

So when I started this story and realised there was quite a lot of that “sappy stuff” going on that almost made me cringe, I thought I’d made a huge mistake. However, I actually soon found myself completely immersed into the lives of Baxter, Jemma and their families.

Retrograde amnesia sounds positively scary. Imagine waking up and not remembering the person next to you, your parents, the life you’ve led so far or even yourself. Do you like wine or ice cream, for instance? What’s your favourite colour, your favourite song? When was your first kiss? What do you do when the essence of “you” might be gone forever?

This is what happens to Jemma after she’s involved in a car accident. Luckily for her, she has Baxter and he is determined to make sure Jemma will one day remember their lives and the intense love they shared. He does this by writing her letters. Nineteen to be exact, a number that holds special meaning to them. Through those letters, he hopes to rekindle the magic he and Jemma had and we, the reader, get to know both of them as Braxton takes us all down memory lane.

“What we had is far too beautiful to be forgotten”

While I found some things a little predictable, I was rooting for the entire cast of characters all the way. Because not only does Baxter have the situation with Jemma to deal with. There is a lot going on in all of their lives. Jemma’s parents have split up but clearly still love each other. Baxter’s father is in a care home and what on earth is going on with Lucas and Rachel?

Nineteen Letters is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking and yet heartwarming story about love, loss, grief and second chances. I smiled. I chuckled, I even had a massive lump in my throat and the overwhelming urge to hug someone tightly. It brings home how short and fragile life is and how quickly things you take for granted can change. There’s a vital lesson here, to take life as it comes and make the best of every day. If you do have that romantic bone in your body, I’m sure you will enjoy meeting Baxter and Jemma.

Nineteen Letters is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Jodi Perry is a wife and mother, and was born in Sydney, Australia. She has lived there her whole life. Under the name J. L. Perry, her previous four novels have all been #1 bestsellers in ebook.

Jodi travels annually to the UK and US to promote her books at romance events and to meet her readers.

Author link : Twitter

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