12.11.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Stocking and other stories by Katie Fforde

In this exciting stocking of Christmas short stories, you will:
Help your best friend cook Christmas dinner, and end up falling in love with one of the guests.
Arrive on Christmas Eve dressed as a fairy, all set to wave your wand and give a young family their best Christmas ever.
Spend an unexpectedly romantic Christmas honeymoon in a small cottage surrounded by the thickest, whitest snow.
Fall in love with a handsome stranger on Christmas morning- and his badly behaved dog.
Host the perfect and most romantic Christmas celebrations ever, entirely by candlelight. 

Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 417

This is such a lovely book to read at this time of year. I am not a huge fan of short stories but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Katie Fforde has put together an excellent selection, many of which she has never published before. Obviously, they all have a festive theme but still they are all very different. One of my favourites was about a young couple who spend their honeymoon in a magical cottage in the woods. Somebody is clearly looking after them but there are no footprints in the snow so where is this kindness coming from?
I do love a good festive read in the run up to Christmas and Katie Fforde gives the reader a real treat with this book. The stories are full of warmth, magic, love, friend
ship, mince pies and mulled wine! So if you are looking for a book to dip in and out of in between wrapping presents and putting decorations up then look no further!

Many thanks to Arrow books for sending me a copy of this book to review! 

24.10.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed...
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.
As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands- but does she plan to save or destroy them? 

Publisher: Picador
Pages: 432

I had already read and enjoyed Jessie Burton's second book, The Muse before this but I think The Miniaturist is definitely my favourite- I haven't wanted it to end.
Nella Oortman begins a new life in Amsterdam, she is only eighteen and her family have married her to a successful and wealthy merchant called Johannes Brandt. Nell enters his grand house full of apprehension and naivety and is surprised when her new husband presents her with an ornate wedding gift; an exact replica of their home. Nella sets about furnishing the house by employing a miniaturist but she soon becomes disturbed when the miniaturist begins sending her items that Nella did not request or items with personal details that they could not possibly know about. Nella tries to contact the miniaturist but has no luck, she wants to know if these items are a warning, a prediction of Nella's future?
The Miniaturist is beautifully written by Jessie Burton, her attention to detail is just exquisite. The book is rich in imagery which makes it so much easier for the reader to picture the characters and surroundings.
I loved the mystery surrounding the miniaturist and the objects she sends to Nella. However, my favourite part of the book was Nella herself. She has to face so much during the story and it is wonderful to watch her change from a naive young girl to a woman who has to take charge of the whole household.
Jessie Burton explored so much more than I expected within this book, feminism, race, sexuality, class, loyalty and prejudice. There were so many different areas being examined yet Burton tied it all together effortlessly.
I know I am super late to the party but if you've not read The Miniaturist yet then I can highly recommend it.

9.10.18

BOOK REVIEW: Lullaby by Leila Slimani

When Myriam decides to return to work, she and her husband look for a Nanny for their two young children. They find their dream candidate: Louise, a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint and hosts enviable birthday parties. But as the couple and their Nanny become increasingly dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment and suspicions start to breed, and Myriam and Paul's idyllic domesticity is shattered. 

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 207

Lullaby popped up on so many blogs that I read and I could not ignore it. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I did enjoy it but I'm not sure if maybe I was expecting a little bit more.
We know from the beginning that a child is dead, the book then builds up to how this horrendous event has taken place.
Myriam and Paul are both successful in their chosen careers, they have achieved this by leaving the bulk of their children's care to their wonderful nanny Louise. Louise had slotted into their family life and they have come to rely on her more and more. But do they truly know this woman  that they trust their precious children with?
Lullaby is highly relevant, it examines modern day domesticity and the pressures people place upon themselves to achieve everything. Leila Slimani looks at race, class, love, loyalty and loss. She is very observant and the book has been translated so well by Sam Taylor. I loved her choice of words and the way she describes situations that will be familiar to so many r
eaders. The book can make for quite uncomfortable reading in parts, it plays on our worst fears and delves into the judgements we make of others every single day. It was a very interesting read but I felt like I was left wanting a little more.

1.10.18

BOOK REVIEW: Together by Julie Cohen

Robbie and Emily have been together for years, but their love is still fresh and fierce. They have shared a bed, a home, a bond so deep it can't be broken. But there are things they don't share, things best left unsaid.
On a morning like any other, Robbie wakes, dresses, writes Emily a letter and leaves their home for good. There is a secret they've been keeping since the day they met. The sacrifices and choices that have sealed their fates could be exposed, and this is the only way to keep it all hidden. 

Publisher: Orion
Pages: 341

Wow, Together is the most unexpected love story I have ever read! Julie Cohen is so masterful with emotions in this book, and the suspense and mystery she creates is something else!
Robbie and Emily me and fell in love immediately and they have made a life for themselves with children of their own and even grandchildren too. But as Robbie's ageing mind begins to falter they are both suddenly very scared that he may accidentally reveal the secret they have always managed to keep. Robbie will do anything to protect Emily and their family, he knows that were they to reveal the truth then they would lose everything they love and hold dear and he won't allow that to happen.
Julie Cohen managed this beautiful story so well, she goes back and forth between the present day and the past and we discover how Robbie and Emily met and the huge sacrifices they made out of love for each other.
When Cohen revealed Robbie and Emily's secret, it was not what I had expected at all and I was so impressed by how it all suddenly made sense. I could think back on how she had dropped hints whilst building the plot up, it is so well done.
Together by Julie Cohen is quite the twist on the traditional love story but it is superb. I was so invested in Robbie and Emily by the end that I felt quite bereft to leave them behind on the final page. I can easily agree with other book bloggers that Together would be an excellent book club choice and there is so much to talk about and questions to raise.
This book will stay with me for a long time, make sure that you read it!!

25.9.18

BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY: The Night Manager by John le Carre

Penguin kindly invited me to take part in their blog tour celebrating the fact that on 27th September, Penguin Modern Classics will have published the entire works of John le Carre which will make him the living author with the greatest body of work to be awarded Classic status.
Le Carre also has a new book, The Little Drummer Girl which is set within the conflict in the Middle East. The BBC will be presenting a six-part adaptation in October featuring Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh and it is being produced by the same team behind the award winning The Night Manager. Penguin are extremely excited about bringing the work of John le Carre to an even wider audience. They sent me a copy of The Night Manager to read and review:

At the start of it all, Johnathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities- about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings- backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.
In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal arms trade, John le Carre creates a claustrophobic world in which no one can be trusted. 

Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics
Pages: 473

As so many people did, I loved the BBC adaptation of The Night Manager and binge watched the whole lot with my husband who for once did not moan too much about having to explain the plot to me. I was a little daunted to read the book but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It did take me while to get into it and work out out how everyone fitted together but once I'd got a handle on it all I felt as though I could keep up.
Johnathan Pine holds the story together, he is the night manager at a luxury hotel but he becomes embroiled in a dark and corrupt criminal world when he goes undercover to seek vengeance for events in the past. He is after Richard Roper, a billionaire arms and drug dealer; what Johnathan doesn't know is that Roper has ties to MI6 and soon P
ine has no idea who the good guys are. Throw into this Pine falling in love with Jed, Roper's mistress and you have a very tangled and dangerous web.
My favourite character was actually Major Corkoran who is Roper's front man, he is in no way a likeable character but I did feel sorry for him as he is convinced that Pine is undercover  but no-one believes him. He is like a little ticking time-bomb within the story.
I've not read any of John le Carre's other books but I have heard many people say that this is the most accessible so it could be a good place to start if you have been thinking of trying some of his books.

Penguin also very kindly gave me a copy of The Night Manager to give away, all you have to do is leave a comment below this post and I will pick a winner at random. You have until midnight on Tuesday 2nd October and this competition is open to UK residents only! 



22.9.18

BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

I'm very excited to be on the blog tour today for Macbeth by Jo Nesbo plus I have a copy to giveaway too! Macbeth is being published by Harvill Secker and is part of the Hogarth Project which sees Shakespeare's works retold by acclaimed and bestselling novelists of today, so far the project has published novels including The Tempest by Margaret Attwood, Tracy Chevalier's retelling of Othello and The Winter's Tale rewritten by Jeanette Winterson. I think Jo Nesbo is the perfect fit for Macbeth, he is one of the world's best crime writers, his writing is gritty and realistic. His approach to Macbeth is modern and relevant:

He's the best cop they've got.
When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it's up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.
He's also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.
He's rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They're all within reach.
But a man like him won't get to the top...
Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He's convinced he won't get what is rightfully his.
...unless he kills for it

Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 611

I have really enjoyed Jo Nesbo's books in the past and I was intrigued to see how he would adapt Macbeth for a modern audience. Making Macbeth a troubled police Inspector was a fantastic idea as it allows Nesbo to include so much within the character. I think that Nesbo perfectly captured the ruthless and desperate nature of Macbeth's character, there is an edge of madness to him along with a dogged determination to get what he wants. I always found Macbeth to have quite a claustrophobic atmosphere and Nesbo recreates this in the four districts he sets the book in; everyone has an agenda and is watching what others are doing, it is quite an oppressive state to live in.
You could easily read this book without having read Macbeth. I found myself trying to interpret it too much at first, trying to match characters and scenes but once I had abandoned that I actually found it more enjoyable so don't be put off, you do not need to have read the original to appreciate this one.

Harvill Secker have kindly said that I can offer a UK reader the chance to win a copy of the book, simply leave a comment below and I will pick a random winner, this competition is open until midnight on 29th September.

Many thanks to Mia at Vintage for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, do check out the other stops too! Macbeth by Jo Nesbo is available to buy now from Amazon, click here to sign up to the official monthly Jo Nesbo emails with exclusive content, news and competitions!

19.9.18

BOOK REVIEW WITH THE BOOK PEOPLE: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how the death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about which divides and unites us.
It is about opening your eyes.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 503

The Book People got in touch to ask if I would like to pick a book from their 'hand-picked favourites' range to review on my blog. To be honest, when I think of The Book People I always think of childrens books or box sets of books etc. So I was pleasantly surprised to look on their website and see that they have a huge selection of fiction novels to choose from. Small Great Things was already on my book wish list so I chose that; they sent me a beautiful hardback edition and I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have ever read.
My experience of Jodi Picoult is limited to her earlier books such as My Sister's Keeper and Vanishing Acts which I really enjoyed. Small Great Things, published in 2016 garnered huge attention; it was a New York Times bestseller and was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club choice in 2017.
We follow the story of Ruth Walker who is accused of killing a newborn baby. Davis Bauer died after a routine procedure, his father Turk Bauer had requested that Ruth did not not touch his son, simply because Ruth is black. Turk now holds Ruth responsible for his son's death. Her world is turned upside down, the racism and prejudice she has experienced her whole life comes together in this charge against her. Kennedy McQaurrie is Ruth's defence attorney, despite Ruth's protestations, Kennedy does not want this case to be about racism, she wants to ensure that Ruth walks free and justice is served. Ruth, Turk and Kennedy are used by Picoult as separate narrators which is a fantastic technique as it gives the reader an insight into their feelings, doubts and emotions.
Jodi Picoult is very brave to tackle such a huge subject but she does it so well. She must have done so much research in order to bring everything together. I myself am of mixed race and I could identify with points that Picoult made, sometimes the things we don't question are more important than the ones we do.
There's a lot to take in when reading this book but the process of the trial keeps it all on track and centres the reader to the here and now.
Small Great Things is a fantastic read, I really cannot recommend it enough. Jodi Picoult delivers a powerful story with complex characters and a highly thought-provoking plot.

Many thanks to The Book People for sending me a copy of the book to review, have a click on the link in my review to see the fabulous books they have! 

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Stocking and other stories by Katie Fforde

In this exciting stocking of Christmas short stories, you will: Help your best friend cook Christmas dinner, and end up falling in love wit...