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! 

17.9.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

Tiny and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative... adulterous to the core.
They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea- the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.
But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.
My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him... it comes for us all sooner or later.
This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 512

I am so glad that I took this book on holiday as it is wonderful. At 512 pages, it is a book that you can completely immerse yourself in. The story of the Wildes is compelling, gripping and perfectly executed by Harriet Evans.
The book has a feel of a saga, it covers Tony Wilde's childhood, his children, Cordelia and Ben's childhood and continues right up to the present where Ben's twin daughters are growing up. Tony and Althea Wilde are both beautiful and intriguing characters, imagine the glamour of the older generation of actors (Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier etc). They both have so much to give yet they are both quite selfish as they focus on their careers and the adoration they crave.
Cordelia and Ben in many ways have had an idyllic childhood, they have spent their summers at ;the Bosky', the beachfront home their father inherited from his great aunt, Dinah. Their father's adulterous ways have a devastating effect on both of them, his choices effectively tear the family apart. Cordelia and Ben keep secrets from each other in an effort to protect one another but the consequences for both are awful. Add to this mix, Mads, a young girl who also spends her summers at the Bosky. She is drawn to this enigmatic family, wanting more than anything to be part of it but she has no idea just how complicated and dangerous that will be.
Tony Wilde is an enigma to many, one of the finest actors of his generation, he has everything, the career, the beautiful wife, the doting children- yet he risks it all by sleeping around. Only Althea truly understands him; she knows what he experienced as a child of the war and why he behaves as he does. She just had no idea the effect this would have on her own children and now she only has limited time left to put things right.
I really did love this book, Harriet Evans effortlessly moves from one time period to another. I was so impressed by how she presented the devastating effects of the war.
The Widlflowers is beautifully written, I can highly recommend this and all of Harriet Evans' previous books.

28.8.18

BOOK BLOG: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In the placid, progressive suburb of Shaker Heights everything is meticulously planned, from 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.
Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, 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 the four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardson's 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. Mrs Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost to her own family- and Mia's. 

Publisher: Abacus
Pages: 388

I ordered this book after hearing Reese Witherspoon talking about it. Only when it arrived did I realise who the author was, I very much enjoyed her first book, Everything I Never Told You.
Celeste Ng has crafted a fantastic story in Little Fires Everywhere. I cannot begin to explain how many layers there are and how beautifully the author weaves them together.
For me, this is very much a story about motherhood and what it truly means to be a mother, whether naturally or through other means. Ng looks at the different ways we parent and the impact our decisions have on our children.
Elena Richardson and Mia Warren could not be any more different yet they are both mothers. They offer each others children something they are missing in one way or another. Mrs Richardson's life if governed by rules and order so it is no surprise that her children are drawn to Mia's wilfulness and spontaneity. On the other hand, Pearl is enticed by Mrs Richardson's comfortable and orderly home, the safety net of the routine she provides her children with.
The questions that Celeste Ng raises in this book are fascinating and I was left with so much to think about at the end. One of my favourite aspects of the book were the descriptions of Mia's photography, they were so intricately explained that I could easily imagine the beautiful work she had created.
Little Fires Everywhere is one of my favourite books of 2018, I highly recommend that you read this beautiful and enlightening book.

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: ...