Book Review: The Library by Bella Osborne

Last month, I was excited to discover my local library delivers books every four weeks to those who are stuck indoors. Ever since the pandemic, lockdown and inability to use my mobility scooter for long distances I’ve been unable to visit my library. How I’ve missed browsing the shelves, discovering new books, finding those that have slipped under the radar and rediscover old ones. The Library by Bella Osborne was in my first library stash and what a joy it was. Scroll down to see why.

Photo of a stack of books form the library including The Library by Bella Osborne, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Library stash -February

Book Review: The Library by Bella Osborne

The Library by Bella Osborne cover - a colourful stack of books
The Library by Bella Osborne

Title: The Library

Author: Bella Osborne

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction

Release Date: 2nd Sept 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

Two lonely bookworms. An unexpected friendship. A library that needs their help

‘A touching story of a friendship between a troubled teenager, a yoga-practising farming woman in her seventies and a local library. A delight!’ – Sunday Times bestselling author Katie Fforde

Teenager Tom has always blended into the background of life. After a row with his dad and facing an unhappy future at the dog food factory, he escapes to the library.

Pensioner Maggie has been happily alone with her beloved novels for ten years – at least, that’s what she tells herself.

When they meet, they recognise something in each other that will change both their lives for ever.

Then the library comes under threat of closure, and they must join forces to prove that it’s not just about books – it’s the heart of their community.

They are determined to save it – because some things are worth fighting for.

My Thoughts

Some books are meant to be treasured and like the village library depicted in this story, this is one of them. The distinct voices of Tom and Maggie shine on the page as they both battle with not only loneliness but their resistance to connect with other people and change.

The attention to detail and the everyday observations made me feel like I was experiencing their lives alongside them. Tom is a shy teenager with dealing with exams, unrequited love and his father. While Maggie is a feisty pensioner with a strong sense of independence. The novel has funny moments such as when Tom discovers his preferred genre to read and hands on experience at Maggie’s farm but also poignant times when they both reveal their lives to each other cementing their deep friendship.

Maggie’s farm is a delightful escape from the world. If I could stay there in reality, I would especially for the cakes and food she served. Also with a stroppy ram called Colin, how could I not fall in love with this location?  

The community the library serves has a collection of memorable personalities adding to the novel’s warmth and acts as a reminder that most people are sociable beings and need that human connection to help them through bad times and celebrate the good.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is a timely read and highlights the fact loneliness can strike all ages but you can find friendships in unlikely places and it can cross the generations. The Library is a warm, honest heart-felt novel sprinkled with humour and leaves you with a sense of hope, calm and a grin.

Author Biography

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, ‘It Started At Sunset Cottage’, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Her novels are often serialised in four parts ahead of the full book publication.

Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

Social Media

Website www.bellaosborne.com

Twitter@osborne_bella

Instagramhttp://www.instagram.com/bellaosborneauthor/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

signature of Katie

Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Welcome to my review for The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy. The tagline intrigued me and I was keen to find out more so jumped at the chance when invited on this blog tour.

Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Book Cover The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Title: The Gosling Girl

Author: Jacqueline Roy

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Crime Fiction

Release Date: 20th Jan 2022

Blurb

Monster. Murderer. Child. Victim.

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again. Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done. The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is coopted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

My Thoughts

The premise of this novel drew me in but the character, Michelle kept me captivated. Naïve, institutionalised, and surprisingly likeable she is understandably conflicted with the knowledge that she’d killed a child, and battles with guilt but as the story progressed it was clear nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

At times, my heart tugged when she is filled with hope of a new start with a new name despite a conviction looming over her while other times, I dreaded turning the page because I wondered where it would lead. Getting to grips with living outside prison and dealing with people with their own agendas is not a smooth path.

Child murder by children is a difficult topic to tackle but it is done sensitively, and is helped by keeping the reader at a distance from the action and having Michelle as an unreliable narrator. There isn’t a graphic description of her crime which allowed for it not to overshadow the emotional aspects of the book. It gives a snapshot into the consequences of actions and highlights the trauma on all sides of the crime including the perpetrator. It investigates the effects of race and in some respects, money and class, on a case and how easy it is for facts to be manipulated to fit different narratives.

Tyler, a police detective has her own battles with prejudices on the force which is topical and relevant in recent events in the Met.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this novel is gripping, thought provoking, and is one that refuses to let you go once you’ve read the last page. It evokes many emotions including initial guilt for connecting and liking a convicted murderer. I’m sure when I watch events unfold on the news the voices of Michelle and Tyler will sneak their way into my thoughts and influence my own judgements; they will remind me no one ever knows the full story and there are many things at play in how events came about and how things are seen. It is ideal for book clubs and initiating discussions.

Author Biography

Author Jacqueline Roy
Jacqueline Roy

Jacqueline was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was English and she comes from a family of writers. She hated the pressure to conform at school and left early, so she did her degrees as a mature student and moved to Manchester to take up a full-time teaching post at Manchester Metropolitan University. She lectured in English for many years, specialising in postcolonial literatures. She also taught creative writing at MMU’s Writing School. She is particularly interested in exploring racial identities and the ways in which those who are marginalised find strategies for fighting back. She is now a full-time writer and has produced fiction for adults and children.

Twitter: @Jacquel27815478

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

signature of Katie

Chasing Eveline book review

Chasing Eveline

Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Genre: Young Adult

Chasing Eveline fitted into July’s book club’s theme, “All about the Music” like a glove or a cassette slotted into its case. It follows teenage Ivy on her plan to reunite an 1980s indie rock group in the hope it will lead her to find her Mum. Chasing Eveline was Ivy’s mum’s favourite band and she shared her love for it with daughter. The small hurdle of the Chasing Eveline members living in Ireland and lack of money will not stop Ivy’s dream of bringing the group together.
This coming of age story entwines the themes of friendship, family, grief, teenage embarrassment with the love of retro music. Forget streaming and downloads this book is about the joy of cassettes and vinyl. It is light-hearted and easy to read but Leslie Hauser captures the deep emotions grief brings when you are left behind.
I was also relieved this lovely debut did not fall into the trap of the clichéd Hollywood ending.

Rating 🌟🌟🌟

Getting ready for Autumn

September has arrived. The nights are drawing in and that means one thing: Autumn is on its way so we can look forward to snuggly socks, cups of hot chocolate and dark evenings. A perfect combination to encourage reading!

20170809_190128-1
Last month, I concentrated on reading those books waiting patiently on my TBR pile which included:

The Gift by Louise Jenson
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas
The Girl who came back by Kerry Wilkinson
The Path Keeper by NJ Simmonds

This month I can’t wait to read:
Marian Keyes The Break
Louise Jensen’s The Surrogate
A flurry of Christmas Themed ones (it is early but luckily,  I love Christmas)

The book club theme for September is Fairy Tales & poetry.

Happy Reading

Love Kate x

Date of book club parties:

Fairy Tales & poetry          29th Sept 2017

Spooky                                  27th Oct 2017

Consult your bucket list     24th Nov 2017

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale review

The series of The Handmaid’s Tale has recently been on the TV.  I heard great things about it so decided to follow the hype and watch. It was hard going; not because it didn’t live up to the expectations but it felt so real and believable in the political climate of today. The plot deals with so many issues including fertility, environment disaster, rape and extreme religion that are consistently talked about on the news. It is violent in places so it is not one to watch or read if any of those are triggers for negative mental health. The imagery of the women dressed in red or blue depending on their status is powerful. Intrigued and caught in the plot it was only natural I needed to read the book. After all, books always win in the book vs film debate.
The waiting list at the library was mind-bendingly long so there was a wait between the “I need to read this” thought and holding the copy in my hand. The cover showing the TV character Offred was striking and more appealing than previous covers I have seen that made me walk by when they were on the shelves of bookshops.
I admit I am not a reader of classics even modern ones so I was concerned I would struggle with it but I didn’t have to worry. I enjoyed it. I can not get my head round the age of the book, 21 years, because it feels so relevant. The TV imagery helped me visualise some scenes and I felt the programme complements the book well. At the beginning if I had not seen an episode of it, I may have got distracted by other books I needed to read for book clubs but once I was into the world of Gilead I had to binge read to the end.
It follows the story of Offred a Handmaid to the Waterford’s. In a world where an extreme religious group has overthrown the US government changing the social dynamics of America and fertility has dropped dramatically,  children are seen as a rare commodity and a women’s place is firmly in the home her only purpose is to breed.
The story sent shivers down my spine; there were moments I wanted to put the book down because I did not want to know what happened next. It is a rich, emotional, clever and powerful read. I can understand why it is studied at school in English Lit courses and I wish I had the opportunity to read it then instead of An Inspector Calls.
It will take a while for my mind to stop thinking about Offred’s reality.

Comment below if you have read/watched it, did you enjoy it too?

Kate

Star Rating  4 out 5

Summer reading in Tremarnock

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Tremarnock Summer – thank you Emma Burstall. When I read the first of the series I fell in love with the Cornish coastal town of Tremarnock and it’s residents especially Liz and her daughter Rosie. It was a pleasure to revisit this delightful place. Her descriptions capture the sea air, stunning scenery and atmosphere of living near the sea so even if you can’t go on holiday, it provides a respite from real life.

Tremarnock Summer

Her relaxed style of writing lulls you into the calm and more relaxed pace of life  in Cornwall. The Tremarnock series, including this one, make perfect holiday reading.

Unlike the other books it took me a while to connect to Bramble, the main character,  but until then, the other characters drew me in including old favourites such as Liz, Loveday and Pat and new ones like Fergus and Shannon. Bramble is a young woman from Chessington living a normal life when she inherits Polgery Manor in the village. On coming to live far from home, she gets more than she bargained for. I  assumed I knew where her story would lead but I was wrong because the story thankfully, twisted in another direction.

Emma Burstall has a way of making the story about whole town not just the star of the current book, like a chilled out  soap opera.  I can’t wait for next year’s arrival to see how everyone are doing.

 

Have you read this series? What did you think?

Happy reading!

Book Lovers Day Favourites

There is nothing quite like a new book with its fresh pages, disintinctive smell, unblemished spine yet to be opened and a story waiting inside to be released for the first time into your imagination. That said, favourite books which are old and shabby with multiple rereads  have  a special place in a book lovers heart  and they deserve to be celebrated on Book Lovers Day. On days when it is miserable outside, life is hard or the duvet is refusing to let you get up, immersing yourself into a familar world with well known characters is a pleasure and soothes the soul.

Some of my favourites are:

The All Souls series by Deborah Harkness. I have them all on my Kindle, phone and paperback just in case I need to visit Diana, Matthew and Hamish. 

The Path Keeper by  N J Simmonds – a new one on my list and I am only halfway through it but within the first few chapters, I knew this was a forever book.

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley –  part of another series I love “The Seven Sisters”. It was love at first sight when I saw the hardback cover on the shelf with its gold leaf constellations.

Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson. A read from one of my favourite authors and its title alone means I can justify eating marshmallows at 8am with no guilt.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland – another new read for me but the characters, the bookshop and its local settings made me fall in love with it.

Audrey Rose by  Frank de Felitta – an in depth read on reincarnation. It is heartbreaking  as well as enlightening. I fell in love with the 1970s film of the same name first and was overjoyed when I discovered the book in a secondhand book shop. 

Remember me by Sophie Kinsella – a go to read for rainy days when you need to be uplifted. Everytime I plant sunflowers in the spring I remember these characters.

Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine – All her books should be included on my list but this one with Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins  beats them all. It quarantees a restless night with the light kept on. 

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni – Angels as you have never seen them before, a convent with a secret and a race against the clock adventure what more do you need? It is the first of a trilogy but works well as a standalone which is handy because the third book has yet to be released and  many readers  wonder whether it will ever be. 

Dark Dividing – A story about twins. It is creepy, clever and deserves to be read over again.  

Sacred and Profane by Marcelle Bernstein – a story surrounding twins again and the mysterious connection they have. One is in jail while the other hides in a closed convent. What secrets do they both hide? I have read it many times and I am still unsure whether I know. 

As I searched my bookcase for my fave books I discovered many reads I needed to visit again; not good for my overlarge TBR pile including The Dead Zone by Stephen King and Dean Koontz’s Lightening.

What do you love reading again and again?

Happy Book Lovers Day and happy reading!

Love Kate

The problem of the ever growing TBR list

The problem with online book clubs, reading reviews and Kindle deals as well as library browsing and retail shopping, my TBR list is growing faster than I can physically keep up with. My reservation list at the library is full, my bookshelves are overflowing and books are now hiding unsucessfully under the bed. Luckily this month, the theme is to read something from your pile of books waiting to be read. – phew!

I am now faced with the dilemma of what to read? In my stash, there are books from new authors, favourite authors alongside old favourites that long to be revisited, it is difficult to choose. So far I have:

The Gift by Louise Jensen

The Path Keepers by NJ Simmonds

The Other Sister by Rowan Coleman

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

Last seen alive by Claire Douglas

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

and many more. If you have any recommendations on which to read, comment below.

 

What are you reading this month?

Celebrating 20 year’s of Harry

 

June has arrived already and this poor blog has been neglected as I have dwelled under the duvet with zero spoons. Many books have been read by our members on the topics of books vs movies, different cultures, floral books, children’s books (always a favourite to do) and finally classics with Jane Eyre being a popular choice.

#HarryPotter #tea #BookClubforSpoonies #DuvetDwellersbookclub

Perfect combination tea and Harry Potter

 

This month we celebrate 20 years since we were first introduced to the most famous boy wizard, Harry Potter and the magical world of JK Rowling. For some, it will be a time of comfort reading as they plunge themselves into their well-thumbed editions while others will cautiously tiptoe into Rowling’s imagination to meet the famous trio and Hagrid for the first time. It will be fascinating to see what their views will be. Will they find the story worth the wait and be asking the sorting hat what house they will be in or will they shrug their shoulders, bewildered at all the hype that still exists around the protagonist and friends?

Personally, I love the Harry Potter series and the community it has created. It doesn’t seem 20 years ago I picked up my copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone from the shelf at Woolworths. The children in the library I worked at were excited about the book and the reservation list of a copy to borrow was ever growing so I needed to buy it. I was hooked the moment Dudley was scared by the snake at London Zoo. The following years on release nights, I was queuing up at midnight with many other bookworms young and old, at the local bookshop eager to read the next instalment. Each volume conjures up happy memories every time they are read. No other series has captured me like that apart from possibly the All Souls Trilogy.

If Harry Potter is not your thing we are celebrating series of books in general? What would you recommend?

Want to join in discussions and natter about books – click here for a warm welcome to our book club for people with chronic illnesses otherwise known as spoonies.

Happy reading!

 

A New Year, a new chapter

A new year has begun and we leave 2016 behind. As a group we read many books and our must-read list is growing expotentially with every discussion about our current reading. There just is not enough time to read them all. A list of the upcoming themes is now available starting with Movies vs Books, so the popcorn is out along with a collection of DVDs. Perfect for curling up under the duvet and keeping warm during these winter months. Are books always better than the movie or do some movies excel at their portrayal of the characters?

Last year, we met Madeline Dyer, Tom Seaman and MJ Smith in our Meet the Author posts. Hopefully, we will have more authors to meet this year and new books to discover.

jodi-picoult-book

This month, we are trying something new and holding an extra book club event to discuss Jodi Picoult’s new book Small Great Things on 25th Jan. It has been heralded as the To Kill the Mockingbird of the 21st Century – will we agree?

If you would like to join in our book club parties and book natter, feel free to join our warm, friendly book club for Spoonies.

Happy reading and from all of us we hope you have a wonderful New Year with lots of spoons and books!

 

Upcoming Book Club Parties

25th January 2017 Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

27th January 2017  Movies vs Books

24th February 2017 Unique Cultural ways of life

31st March 2017 It’s springtime!