Book Review: Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Today, I’m thrilled to finally share my review for Nothing Else by Louise Beech. Until now, I’d only read one other of Louise Beech’s backlist, I am Dust but I fell in love with her writing so I had high expectations for this novel. Scroll down to see if it dazzled.

Book Review: Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Book cover Nothing Else by Louise Beech
2 face profiles on different sides of an open book of empty music sheets
Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Title: Nothing Else

Author: Louise Beech

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Fiction, suspense

Release Date: 23rd June 2022

Blurb

The multiple bestselling and award-winning author returns with an exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma and the unbreakable bond between sisters; a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

My Thoughts

Oh my, this book pulled me in the first chapter and didn’t let me go until I finished the last page. Who needs sleep when the next chapter demands to be read? Unlike the ghost story I am Dust, this is an exquisite and emotional tale of family, the bond of sisters, music and secrets.

Heather is based in Hull which is my nearest city and there is something refreshing about reading somewhere you recognise in a book, it grounds you into the story even before you truly meet the characters. The underlying mystery of what happened to Harriet added tension throughout and I loved discovering the truth alongside Heather so I won’t delve to deeply into the plot her (you’ll have to read it for yourself) but the issues raised are handled with care and sensitivity without shying away from the emotional upset they bring.

I’ve never been on a cruise but it was easy to imagine walking beside Heather as she explored the ship and sit on a nearby table to listen to her play on the baby grand piano. I could feel the sway of the boat and hear the tunes. This strength of place and connection to Heather meant I couldn’t stop reading when I met the younger version and her sister Harriet. It was a joy to watch them learn to play the piano and their love for music, desire to play was contagious, I had to listen to the playlist. On the flip side, this connection meant my emotions took a hit when times hit hard times for the girls. This rollercoaster is a sign of a splendid read.  

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, it has been so hard not to shout about how much I loved this book until now. Louise Beech has a talent for bringing the music and the emotion it brings to life. It’s superb writing combined with the musicality, strong sense of place and soul makes it a novel to remember. It belongs on my forever shelf and is a clearly in the running for one of my favourite books this year.

I can’t wait to read more of Louise’s books and feel lucky my library has some of her back catalogue.

Author Biography

Photograph of Louise Beech
Louise Beech

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

Book Review: The Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

Today I’m excited to share my review The Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott. Set in North Yorkshire, one of my favourite places, I was eager to visit the Happy Hartes bookshop and discover the residents. Scroll down to see if this book met my high expectations.

Book Review: The Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

The Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott
The Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

Title: The Little Bookshop by the Sea

Author: Eliza J. Scott

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 3rd May 2022

Purchase Links

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09YMMBQCY US:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09YMMBQCY

Blurb

Welcome to the Happy Hartes Bookshop in Micklewick Bay on the beautiful North Yorkshire Coast!

The Happy Hartes Bookshop has been a part of bookworm Florrie Appleton’s life as far back as she can remember. From the evocative smell of the books, to working alongside her beloved Mr H and his black Labrador, Gerty, there’s no wonder she calls it her happy place.

Living in a town she loves, with her family and group of close-knit friends nearby, life is sweet. Until one dreadful Monday morning, when everything is turned upside down and things are changed forever.

Devastated, Florrie finds herself thrown into an unexpected situation with handsome stranger, Ed Harte, owner of a pair of twinkly navy-blue eyes and a smile that has the knack of making mischief with her insides.

Despite being fresh out of a relationship, Florrie quickly finds herself falling for him, but she’s torn, reluctant to give her heart to someone who seems intent on not sticking around.

While her heart’s doing battle with her head, Florrie soon finds herself privy to a secret with Ed involving a heart-wrenching twist they could never have imagined.

Will love find a way to bring them together, or are they destined to go their separate ways?

My Thoughts

I’m a sucker for novels set in bookshops and add in the location of Yorkshire and romance I’m in heaven. This was no exception, the Happy Harte bookshop was somewhere I wished was real so I could visit. With the descriptions that evoke feelings of belonging, this novel has a strong and distinct sense of place and I kept looking for clues to see if I could recognise the inspirational location behind Micklewick Bay.

 Florrie is a relatable protagonist and I adored her relationship with Mr H. The love he had for Florrie and his grandson Ed, shone throughout the book and for his sake I flicked over the page to see if he had his happy ever after ending he dreamt of for Florrie.

Florrie has a large circle of friends and along with the warm community it is easy to see this as the beginning of a delightful series.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an enjoyable romance set in the delightful town of Micklewick Bay. The Harte bookshop is a special place that has in my heart. This is an ideal book fro fans of Jenny Colgan.

Author Biography

Eliza lives in the North Yorkshire countryside with her family. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her kindle or working in her garden, fighting a losing battle against the weeds.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heartwarming romance stories with relatable female characters. Her books will always have a happy ending.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @ElizaJScott1

Instagram: @elizajscott

Facebook: @elizajscottauthor

Website: www.elizajscott.com/

BookBub: www.bookbub.com/authors/elizaj-scott

Amazon author page UK: amazon.co.uk/~/e/B07DMQWPMH

Amazon author page US: amazon.com/~/e/B07DMQWPMH

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources 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

Promo post: Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

On the last day of May I’m excited to share info on the newest novel by Lars Keplar, Mirror Man.

Lars Keplar is a duo of writers specialising in crime thrillers with the protagonist, Joona Lina.

Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

The Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

Title: The Mirror Man

Author: Lars Keplar

Publisher: Zaffre

Genre: Crime, thriller

Release Date: 23rd June 2022

Blurb

IF YOU SEE HIS REFLECTION IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE . . .


Seventeen-year-old Jenny is abducted in broad daylight and taken to a dilapidated, isolated house where she is chained and caged along with several other girls. Their captor is unpredictable, and as wily as he is cruel: he foils every one of their desperate attempts to escape . . . and once caught they rarely survive their punishment.

Five years later, Jenny is found dead in a public park, and the police are scrambling to find a lead among the scant evidence. But Detective Joona Linna realizes that this murder has an eerie connection to a death that was declared a suicide years before. And now when Mia, a seventeen-year-old orphan, goes missing, it becomes clear to Joona that they are dealing with a serial killer-and the murderous rampage has just begun.

As the police close in on the killer, Mia and her fellow captives are plunged into ever greater danger, and Joona finds himself in a seemingly impossible race against time to save their young lives.

Author Biography

Photo of the writing duo behind Lars Keplar
Lars Keplar

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of critically acclaimed husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril (b. 1966) and Alexander Ahndoril (b. 1967), authors of the No. 1 internationally bestselling Joona Linna series.

With seven instalments to date, the series has sold 15 million copies in 40 languages. The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler, and have each published several acclaimed novels.

More information can be found in a past Q and A post The Minds behind Lars Keplar

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and giving me a sneaky look at this book

Love

Book review: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Today I’m excited to share my review for The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox. The gorgeous cover of a partially hidden door promises a book of secrets, scroll down to see if it achieved this.

Book review: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Book cover for The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox.

A blue door covered with ivy and the image of a young girl walking away through a keyhole.
The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Title: The Shadow Child

Author: Rachel Hancox

Publisher: Century

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: 14th April 2022

Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life. For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

The Shadow Child is a book of hope and reconciliation, of coming to terms with trauma and learning to love again. Most of all, it’s about how you can never quite escape from the shadows of your past – especially when one of those shadows is a child …

My Thoughts

The first chapter with young Emma hooked me into the story and though it isn’t a fast paced read, I couldn’t put it down because I connected to all but one of the characters. The beginning focused on the parents’ distress of having a missing child, their coping strategies, the mystery behind Emma’s disappearance and the relationship with their new tenants. Everyone had secrets and I kept turning the page to discover how they would all be revealed and whether reconciliation would be possible.

The arrival of Emma’s voice lured me in further. Her turmoil and reasons for disappearing surprised me and made this novel different to others I’ve read.  All the characters including those on the fringes had depth and believable backstories making it an emotional and engaging read. It is told with empathy and sensitivity which is crucial as it delved into the affects of grief, disability and the impact they have on families and individuals.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it’s an engaging and emotional read with well-developed characters thrown into an unimaginable situation. With some heart-breaking moments tissues maybe required but these are also balanced with moments of hope.

I look forward to reading more from the author in the future.

Author Biography

Photo of author Rachel Hancox
Rachel Hancox

RACHEL HANCOX read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

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

Book Review: Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

I discovered this detective series thanks to a discussion on Miranda Dickinson’s Fab Night in Chatty Thing on Facebook. The buzz around it made me try the first book, Date with and I was hooked. They make ideal binge reading material. When the arc for arrived I was eager to read thanks to the cliff-hanger of book six. Scroll down, to see if it reached my high expectations.

Book Review: Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

Book cover for Date with Betrayal by Julia Chapman
Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

Title: Date with betrayal

Author: Julia Chapman

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Crime and mystery

Release Date: 31st March 2022

Blurb

The seventh novel in international bestseller Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.

In the seventh novel in Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, Date with Betrayal, betrayal is rife in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales as Samson O’Brien, owner of the Dales Detective Agency, is targeted by a hitman. Can Bruncliffe save him?

A brilliantly engaging and witty mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.

 Death is coming to Bruncliffe: its target is Samson O’Brien.

Oblivious to his impending date with fate, Samson is busy juggling a number of cases at the Dales Detective Agency. Too busy, in fact, to notice his partner behaving oddly.

 Because Delilah Metcalfe knows what is coming. A hitman. Sent from London with one objective: to finally silence the troublesome O’Brien before his corruption case can make it to court. With Samson’s life in peril, and betrayal around every corner, Delilah has no choice but to call in favours from all of her Bruncliffe connections in order to counteract the menace threatening to engulf the Dales town.

The only trouble is the townsfolk have long memories and deep grievances when it comes to Samson O’Brien. Trust must be earned and they will take some convincing before they put themselves in danger in order to save him. And even then, it might not prove enough . . .

Full of charm, wit and characters that will capture your heart, the series begins with Date With Death. Have you read them all? ‘As village murder mysteries go, this clever, witty and realistic series is quite out of the ordinary and strongly recommended’ – Crime Review

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve followed a crime series and am always worried that they will lose their charm the longer they go on but not here. This is the best book yet.

Delilah was always a great and complex personality, but she comes into her own in this novel when she has to manipulate circumstance to protect Samson. When her plan is revealed and saw it in action, it provided chuckles alongside fearful moments which made this a perfect book to escape in.

Tolpuddle is my favourite literary canine and his antics continue to make me love him in this novel.

The Dale Detective series is a clever blend of crime and a hug in a book. Bruncliffe is full of quirky personalities you’d love to have as neighbours, and reading about them makes you feel like you’re coming home, but the crime element is well paced, twisty and as thrilling as more graphic and gory novels. Death with Betrayal steps the tension and thrill up a notch when the evil of London collides with the genius of Yorkshire folk. Seeped with humour, friendship and community secrets with the undercurrent of romance, it was a joy to read and I didn’t want it to end.

Throughout the series, I’ve connected to many of the side characters and this book showcases them all as threads laid in earlier books start to come together, for this reason I’d recommend you start with book one, Date with Death to get the full enjoyment. You won’t be disappointed. They tap into the love communities have for their own and the prejudices, the wealth of personalities and unique knowledge of their location.

The wait for the next instalment is going to be too long.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, like the others in this series, it was an addictive book as I was sucked into the life of Bruncliffe and the plan to keep Samson alive. Full of Yorkshire humour and quirkiness, it was a gripping, tense and clever read.

If you are a fan of Richard Osman’s novels, you’ll love these and maybe you’ll even agree with me, that these are miles better, with more character depth in a wealth of endearing personalities, and fuller plot with a visual, atmospheric backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales.

Author Biography

Julia Chapman

Julia Chapman is the pseudonym of Julia Stagg, who has had five novels, the Fogas Chronicles set in the French Pyrenees, published by Hodder. She is also the author of the Dales Detective series which follows the adventures of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe as they solve cases in the Yorkshire Dales. Born with a wanderlust that keeps her moving, Julia has followed her restless feet to Japan, Australia, the USA and France. She spent the majority of that time as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language but also dabbled in bookselling, pawnbroking, waitressing and was once ‘checkout chick of the month’ at a supermarket in South Australia. She also ran an auberge in the French Pyrenees for six years with her husband. Having spent many years wandering, she is now glad to call the Yorkshire Dales home. Its distinctive landscape and way of life provide the setting for her latest set of novels, the Dales Detective series.

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

Book Review: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Book Review: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Book Cover: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Yellow cover with a woman sitting at the window looking at blue skies with a cat and a dog
After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Title: After the Rain

Author: Lucy Dillon

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction

Release Date: 17th March 2022

Blurb

After the storm it’s time for a fresh start . . .

 First, the clouds… Tara Hunter is a therapist on a mission to restore Longhampton’s community spirit after catastrophic flooding. But with her boyfriend AWOL, her family fragmented, and only a cat for company, Tara’s own life is crumbling.

Then the storm… On top of everything, Tara’s father – last seen as he walked out on her when she was ten years old – is suddenly back, with a surprising offer that could change everything.

 And after the rain… Dr David Dalloway is Longhampton Wellness Centre’s new star counsellor. He’s charming, caring and has a knack for reading people’s minds – which is the last thing Tara needs right now. Will having David and her dad around make for a bigger storm on the horizon? Or is this Tara’s chance for a fresh start?

My Thoughts

Behind this cheery book cover is an honest, often heart-breaking story of a woman reaching breaking point while endlessly and selflessly helping others. It looks at the trauma large events have on communities and individuals long after the tv cameras have dispersed with their news coverage of people in their wellies, looking shell shocked at their destroyed homes.

I loved the uniqueness of the wellbeing centre with its collection of characters working and popping in which gave a good foundation for the story. Tara’s job as a counsellor has meant her own grief has been put on hold but life has a way of forcing her to take stock. The novel dug deeper into her emotions than I expected and this led to me have a true connection with Tara; I felt her grief, heartache and fatigue as she battled the aftermath of the storm on a personal level. Her journey took me through a gamut of emotions, with the tough times balanced with a slow burn romance with Dr David Dalloway and the humour of his unique way of helping his patients.

Would I recommend?

Yes, After the Rain is a beautifully told bittersweet story with an empathy and depth that will stay with me for a long time. Tissues are required throughout.

Author Biography

Photo of Lucy Dillon
Lucy Dillon

Sunday Times bestselling author Lucy Dillon grew up in Cumbria and read English at Cambridge, then read a lot of magazines as a press assistant in London, then read other people’s manuscripts as a junior fiction editor. She now lives in a village outside Hereford with a Border terrier, an otterhound and her husband.

Lucy won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Contemporary Romantic Novel prize in 2015 for A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME, and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for LOST DOGS AND LONELY HEARTS.

Social Media:

Twitter @lucy_dillon

Instagram @lucydillonbooks

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

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

I’m excited to share my review for Clare Swatman’s new novel, Before We Grow Old. I adored her previous book Dear Grace so I couldn’t wait to get started with this.

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Book cover: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman
Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Title: Before We Are Old

Author: Clare Swatman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Genre: Woman’s fiction

Release Date: 19th Jan 2022

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2Y7Z8l7

Blurb

When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.

Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

This is a love story with believable characters that grabbed me from the start. Fran and her son Kieran have a settled life which changes with the arrival of her childhood sweetheart Will. The themes of first love and second chance love are covered and I enjoyed reading the chemistry between Will and Fran in the past and the present. With the rediscovery of a list they made when younger listing all they wanted to do before they grow old, there are moments of joy, sadness and reflection. Both characters have secrets that could change their path forever.

It is a highly emotional read told with compassion and sensitivity. Fran as a narrator , allowed me to see her growth, her turmoil but also the depth of her love for Will.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it has a different feel to Dear Grace with the focus on a younger generation but is a delightful, and heart-breaking romantic novel to rival the classic  The Love Story. It’s one that requires a box of tissues and a duvet day to indulge in one day.

Author Biography

Clare Swatman
Clare Swatman

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. She lives in Hertfordshire.

Social Media Links  

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

Twitter https://www.twitter.com/clareswatman

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/clareswatmanauthor

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources 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

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

Book Review: Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Cecelia Ahern novel and have several one my TBR pile, but I was excited to be invited to this tour for Freckles not only because the cover is stunning and the blurb sounded different but relatable. Scroll down to see if they lived up to my expectations.

Book Review: Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Book cover of Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Freckles

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction

Release Date: 2nd September 2021

Blurb

‘Freckles is a beautiful, hopeful book when the world needs hope most. Cecelia has written a novel about our search for our authentic selves in a crazy world. Like all her novels, it’s inspiring, life-affirming and full of insight’ CATHY KELLY


You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with…


When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city. But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are
the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.


Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

My Thoughts

Freckles is unlike the other Cecelia Ahern’s novels I’ve read for its lack of the signature quirky otherworldly elements, but it grabbed me from the beginning with Allegra connecting her freckles on her arms to form constellations. This simple image connected me to her despite her character being someone who is hard to get close to initially. Feeling disconnected from everyone including her beloved father, Freckles as she is known has been hurt multiple times and keeps everyone at arms length including the reader. Her chosen career choice as a traffic warden which she loves for its rules and routine she follows with precisely was guaranteed to put a barrier between those in her new town and any relationships she may have. Freckles is a complex and authentic personality with many traits to indicate that she is neurodivergent, making her feel out of step with those around her. She says things as they are and sometimes cause offence without meaning to. As a neurotypical reader, I felt this was a good representation of a neurodivergency and gave an accurate glimpse into her world but with all books with neurodivergent characters the true test is how those with autism feel.

When she hears the quote telling her people’s personalities are made up of five people around them, she longs to meet those who will improve her lot. Her innocence in how she sees the world is refreshing and tugged at my heart especially when it leads her to situation you know she may get hurt. I felt a maternal love for her and longed to jump in and steer her in the right direction with some of the choices she makes on her pursuit to find herself and happiness. It made me reflect on my own life and pinpoint my five, while reading her emotional but uplifting journey.

All the characters around her are well developed and have interesting backstories to help push this character driven story forward. It tackles some heavy topics including self-harm and dementia in a sensitive manner.

Would I recommend?

Yes, behind this beautiful cover is a beautiful, warm and thought provoking book which may have a slow pace but it has depth and introduced me to Freckles who on her quest to find her five slipped into my heart and on to my forever shelf for a reread.

Author Biography

Photo of Cecelia Ahern
Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern is one of the biggest selling authors to emerge in the past fifteen years, having sold more than 25 million copies worldwide in over 50 countries. Two of her books have been adapted as major films and she has created several TV series in the US and Germany. Her novel PS I Love You was a New York Times bestseller and huge #1 bestseller in Ireland and the UK. In 2007, it was made into a major film starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and most recently, Cecelia wrote the sequel- Postscript which was an instant bestseller. Cecelia has written13 bestselling novels including two YA novels and a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, ROAR which is being produced by and starring Nicole Kidman. Her novels have resonated with readers everywhere through their thoughtful, unique and inspiring storytelling and have won numerous awards.


Cecelia lives in Dublin with her family. To find out more please visit www.cecelia-ahern.com


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.

A quick Dystonia Around the World challenge update, dystonia attacks and migraines have slowed down the reading but currently on book five. To find out more about the challenge click here.

Take care and happy reading!

Love

signature of Katie

Why not pop over to other blogs on this tour.

Book Review: Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin

Happy bank holiday Monday! I hope the sun is shining where you are and you can take the exxtra time to relax and read. Today I am pleased to share my review for Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin. The blurb intrigued me because I remember overhearing a conversation as a child about a friend of the family discovering they had an aunt in an asylum after being forced there because of an out of wedlock pregnancy. It horrified me this could happen. I wanted to know how the topic would be discussed.

Book Review: Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin

Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin

Title: Matilda Windsor is Coming Home

Author: Anne Goodwin

Publisher: Inspired Quill

Genre: Saga, historical fiction

Release date: 29th May 2021

Blurb

In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect.

Henry was only a boy when he waved goodbye to his glamorous grown-up sister; approaching sixty, his life is still on hold as he awaits her return.

As a high-society hostess renowned for her recitals, Matty’s burden weighs heavily upon her, but she bears it with fortitude and grace.

Janice, a young social worker, wants to set the world to rights, but she needs to tackle challenges closer to home.

A brother and sister separated by decades of deceit. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart?

In this, her third novel, Anne Goodwin has drawn on the language and landscapes of her native Cumbria and on the culture of long-stay psychiatric hospitals where she began her clinical psychology career.

Find out more on Matilda Windsor’s webpage

My Thoughts

There are three main voices in this novel, Matilda/Matty, Henry and Janice but it is Matilda who shines and made me keep turning the page. She is an unreliable protagonist because the years in the asylum has affected her mental health making her confused, and living in the past but I adored her. She is honest to herself, eccentric and adds humour to this emotional novel. Her confusion is shown in those chapters effectively by making the reader see things through her eyes. It took a while for me to realise who was who because she does muddle names up. She made me care and want her to have the happy ending she deserved.

Henry also came across as an unreliable protagonist but I struggled to connect with him despite his obvious love for his sister. Janice is the thread linking them together and I admired her integrity and ideological way of thinking which is important to make things happen and fight against nimbyism and bureaucracy.

This majority of the novel is set in the late 1980s and early 90s. I grew up in the 80s and it highlighted how much opinions on mental health and events have changed, even in my lifetime. Never mind the stigma attached to mental health in the war years.  The past stories are heart breaking but the topics are dealt with sensitively and highlight the cruelty of the past and the control men had over women’s mental health.

Would I recommend?

Stories like Matilda’s need a voice so we can learn. The topic and range of characters makes this an ideal book to read in a book club setting. There are plenty of characters to love and hate and much to discuss. I imagine they could be some lively conversations triggered by the story.

Author Biography

Author Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin grew up in the non-touristy part of Cumbria, where this novel is set. When she went to university ninety miles away, no-one could understand her accent. After nine years of studying, her first post on qualifying as a clinical psychologist was in a long-stay psychiatric hospital in the process of closing.

Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories.

Author links

Website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree https://linktr.ee/annecdotist

YouTube: Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

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

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO/

Inspired Quill: https://www.inspired-quill.com/blog/anne-goodwin/

Newsletter signup https://bit.ly/daughtershorts

Book links

Matilda Windsor webpage https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/matilda-windsor.html

Matilda Windsor link tree https://linktr.ee/matildawindsor

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57764021-matilda-windsor-is-coming-home

Matilda Windsor’s Twitter @MWiscominghome

Matilda Windsor at Inspired Quill: https://www.inspired-quill.com/product/matilda-windsor-is-coming-home/

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1913117057/

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/1913117057/

Thank you Random Things Tour for inviting me to this tour and the advanced copy for read so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading!

Love

signature of Katie