Book Review: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

Cast out by her family in Nazi-occupied Holland, seventeen-year-old Noa saves a baby from a train bound for the concentration camps, fleeing with him in the snowy night into the woods surrounding the tracks. She stumbles upon a German circus, led by the famous Herr Neuhoff, where each performer has their own history and secrets. They agree to take in Noa and the baby, on one condition – she must earn her keep, and the circus is short of an aerialist. Noa will be trained by the star trapeze artist, Astrid, but first they must learn to trust one another: as they soar high above the crowds, there are more than just their own lives at stake. And as it becomes clear that even the circus cannot hide from the war forever, loyalty may prove the most dangerous trait of all.

The Nightingale meets Water For Elephants in this powerful story of friendship, love and sacrifice loosely based on several true stories from World War II, uncovered by Jenoff in her research. 

Published 23rd February 2017 by Harpercollins UK   

I loved the sound of The Orphan's Tale from the moment I read about it. Stories set during WW11 have always drawn me to them and equally, I find the life of the people living and working in the circus fascinating and intriguing. The fact that this book combined both was unusual and I began reading this book as soon as it arrived, not looking up for at least 100 pages. 

The book tells the story of two women, both very different from each other but who find themselves intricately connected, both dependent on each other for their own survival. Noa has nowhere to go, she's been banished by her family, relinquished her own baby in a country where his safety isn't certain and is living in a store cupboard in the train station where she cleans. What Noa comes across here is truly shocking and upsetting to read, it turned me cold and broke my heart. I had to stop reading for a few seconds while I composed myself. 

What Noa does next sees her fleeing for her life, and that of the Jewish baby she saved. But with no money and nowhere to go, her attempts might be in vein if it weren't for being discovered by members of the circus. Here she is offered a chance, learn the trapeze and perform for the circus and she will be protected. But the star artist of the trapeze act is furious to be landed with such a task. Yet as much as Noa needs the protection of the circus, Astrid does too..she's also Jewish.and training Noa to take the limelight may be her only chance to survive in Nazi Germany.  

The Orphan's Tale is told in alternative chapters from both women. I loved the contrast between the two. Astrid is strong, powerful, controlled and dignified. She's suffered heartache and loss, and you can feel the weight of what she carries through every word of her chapters. Her strength comes from her talent and dedication to the circus, and Pam Jenoff describes Astrid's passion for the trapeze with such conviction, I could feel her adrenaline while imagining her swooping across the air. Astrid's character really got to me, I respected and admired her, grieved for her and hoped for her. 

Noa, in  comparison, is naive, and is often rash and reckless. She rushes into situations without thinking them through, acting as her heart tells her. It's this rashness that drives her to take the baby from the train, demonstrating such spirit and courage. My opinion of Noa was conflicted through the book, the trait of acting with her heart resulting in extraordinary bravery at times, but also foolishness. Noa's actions where not always selfless, risking the safety of those who protect her for her own desires. On one occasion I did actually wonder if anyone would be as foolish as Noa in her situation, and found her defiance and recklessness frustrating. However, there is something about the childlike quality of her character that stops her becoming unlikable. 

The relationship between Noa and Astrid is difficult and built on resentment, jealousy, desperation and mistrust. yet each of them needs the other, and must learn to trust-not only if Noa is to succeed but for their very survival. I loved the development of the relationship throughout the book, and think that is what The Orphan's Tale is about - the complexities of two people, thrown together in extraordinary circumstances that create a unique bond. It's about trust, loyalty, acceptance and survival. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, leaving me with tears streaming down my face more than once. I'd recommend it.  

Yesterday, I hosted the blog tour for The Orphan's Tale with an exclusive extract from the book. You can find it here

Blog Tour: Exclusive Extract From The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

 

Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in Pam Jenoff's blog tour for her latest book, The Orphan;s Tale I read this wonderful book last week and will be posting my review very soon. I can promise you now though that it is moving, mesmerising and heart-breakingly beautiful. Enjoy an exclusive extract below and don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, Author Q&A's and a giveaway. 


Cast out by her family in Nazi-occupied Holland, seventeen-year-old Noa saves a baby from a train bound for the concentration camps, fleeing with him in the snowy night into the woods surrounding the tracks. She stumbles upon a German circus, led by the famous Herr Neuhoff, where each performer has their own history and secrets. They agree to take in Noa and the baby, on one condition – she must earn her keep, and the circus is short of an aerialist. Noa will be trained by the star trapeze artist, Astrid, but first they must learn to trust one another: as they soar high above the crowds, there are more than just their own lives at stake. And as it becomes clear that even the circus cannot hide from the war forever, loyalty may prove the most dangerous trait of all.

The Nightingale meets Water For Elephants in this powerful story of friendship, love and sacrifice loosely based on several true stories from World War II, uncovered by Jenoff in her research.  

Published 23rd February 2017 by HQ - Harpercollins Uk

It has been three days since Erich returned unexpectedly early from work to our apartment. I threw myself into his arms. “I’m so glad to see you,” I exclaimed. “Dinner isn’t quite ready yet, but we could have a drink.” He spent so many nights at official dinners or buried in his study with papers. It seemed like forever since we’d shared a quiet evening together.
He did not put his arms around me but remained stiff. “Ingrid,” he said, using my full name and not the pet name he’d given me, “we need to divorce.”
“Divorce?” I wasn’t sure I had ever said the word before. Divorce was something that happened in a movie or a book about rich people. I didn’t know anyone who had ever done it—in my world you married until you died. “Is there another woman?” I croaked, barely able to manage the words. Of course there was not. The passion between us had been unbreakable—until now.
Surprise and pain flashed over his face at the very idea.
“No!” And in that one word I knew exactly the depths of his love and that this awful thing was hurting him. So why would he even say it? “The Reich has ordered all officers with Jewish wives to divorce,” he explained. How many, I wondered, could there possibly be? He pulled out some documents and handed them to me with smooth strong hands. The papers carried a hint of his cologne. There was not even a spot for me to sign, my agreement or disagreement irrelevant—it was fait accompli. “It has been ordered by the Führer,” he adds. His voice was dispassionate, as though describing the day-to-day matters that went on in his department. “There is no choice.”
“We’ll run,” I said, forcing the quaver from my voice. “I can be packed in half an hour.” Improbably I lifted the roast from the table, as though that was the first thing I would take. “Bring the brown suitcase.” But Erich stood stiffly, feet planted. “What is it?”
“My job,” he replied. “People would know I was gone.” He would not go with me. The roast dropped from my hands, plate shattering, the smell of warm meat and gravy wafting sickeningly upward. It was preferable to the rest of the immaculate table, a caricature of the perfect life I thought we’d had. The brown liquid splattered upward against my stockings, staining them.
I jutted my chin defiantly. “Then I shall keep the apartment.”
But he shook his head, reaching into his billfold and emptying the contents into my hands. “You need to go. Now.” Go where? My family was all gone; I did not have papers out of Germany. Still I found my suitcase and packed mechanically, as if going on holiday. I had no idea what to take.
Two hours later when I was packed and ready to go, Erich stood before me in his uniform, so very much like the man I had spied in the audience beyond the lights the day we met. He waited awkwardly as I started for the door, as if seeing out a guest.
I stood in front of him for several seconds, staring up beseechingly, willing his eyes to meet mine. “How can you do this?” I asked. He did not answer. This is not happening, a voice inside me seemed to say. In other circumstances, I would have refused to go. But I had been caught off guard, the wind knocked out of me by an unexpected punch. I was simply too stunned to fight. “Here.” I pulled off my wedding band and held it out. “This isn’t mine anymore.”
Looking down at the ring, his whole face seemed to fall, as if realizing for the first time the finality of what he was doing. I wondered in that moment if he would tear up the papers that decreed our marriage over and say we would face the future together, whatever the odds. He swiped at his eyes.
When his hand moved away the hardness of the “new Erich,” as I called him in the recent months when it had all seemed to change, reappeared. He pushed the ring away and it clattered to the floor. I hurried to pick it up, cheeks stinging from the roughness of his once-gentle touch. “You keep it,” he said. “You can sell it if you need money.” As if the one thing that bound us together meant so little to me. He fled the apartment without looking back and in that moment the years we shared seemed to evaporate and disappear.
Of course I do not know Herr Neuhoff well enough to tell him any of this. “I’ve left Berlin for good,” I say, firmly enough to foreclose further discussion. 


About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the internationally bestselling author of several novels, including The Kommandant’s Girl, which was a finalist for both the Quill awards and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal. Pam draws inspiration for her books from her service as a diplomat for the State Department in Europe working on Holocaust issues, and her experiences as the politically-appointed Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon. She also practiced law at a large firm and in-house, and is on the faculty of Rutgers School of Law. Pam received her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, her master’s degree in history from Cambridge University, and her juris doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children. Find out more about Pan on her website, pamjenoff.com, on Facebook @PamJenoffAuthor, or follow her on Twitter @PamJenoff.

Blogger Recognition Award

Last week I was thrilled to be awarded the Blogger Recognition Award by Katherine @ Blibliomaniac UK - thank you Katherine, I was both surprised and delighted to be included!  You can visit Katherines book review blog @ bibliomanicuk.blogspot.uk or follow her on twitter @Katherinesunde3

 
RULES OF THE AWARD:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created. 

How my blog started 
Back in 2009 I was actively writing reviews on a consumer opinion site. I reviewed anything from shampoo to places I'd visited but my main passion was writing reviews of the many books I read. Anyway, I was googling an author who I'd recently reviewed and really enjoyed to find out when their next book was out and was stunned to see my review quoted (It was Margaret Leroy's The Drowning Girl if you're curious) and made me feel that maybe more people would be interested in what I thought about the books I was devouring. I'd been reading reviews from Chick Lit Chloe and loved her website, so decided to give book blogging a go. with my first post  in January 2010 

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers 

1. Get involved in the community. I love it when people comment on the blog and chat to me on twitter. People won't find you - you have to put yourself out there. Join and make use of twitter and reach out. yes it's scary, but most of us just want to chat about books too!

2. Keep it fun. Remember this is not your job. It won't pay the bills or put dinner on the table. In the past, I've become overwhelmed with the amount of books I have to read, worrying about whether I'm posting enough, whether I have enough followers. It really doesn't matter. It's ok to take a break, post when you feel like it and always, always read what you want to-when you want to.  You'll burn out otherwise. 

Fifteen Bloggers I'm Passing This Award On To  
A mix of some of my very favourites whose blogs I've followed over the last seven years and some new to me blogs I've been reading recently. I know a lot of these bloggers have already had this award...but hey, I think they deserve it again :)







Book Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls. Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl. But you won't when you know the truth. Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family's rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But what she doesn't know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice...(from Goodreads.com

Published 9th March 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton (UK) 

It was the cover of The Roanoke Girls that first caught my eye - pretty yet subtly chilling in equal measures, it hints perfectly at the dark, dark tale inside. After reading the blurb and a couple of reviews I was convinced....I definitely wanted to read this book. 

Fifteen year old Lane has recently lost her mother to suicide. She's left alone in foster care, having spent her life being brought up by her distant and depressive mother. But when she's told her Grandparents want her, Lane hopes that for first time she can find a true family and home. Moving across the country to the huge mansion in the middle of rural Kansas, Lane is welcomed into the home by her vivacious cousin Allegra and her charismatic and doting Grandpa. But a dark secret simmers within the walls of Roanoke, and Lane is being pulled slowly into her family's twisted history. Ten years later, and Lane is again living away from Roanake and hasn't been in contact since she left suddenly. When she gets a call from her Grandpa to say Allegra has gone missing, Lane is drawn back to Roanoke to face the demons she left behind all those years ago. 

To say The Roanoke Girls is a shocker of a book is an understatement. It's quite early in the book when one line, thrown so bluntly by Lane, made me gasp out loud in horror, despite the fact I had my suspicions where this book was going. This is a disturbingly dark story, yet I couldn't tear myself away. Some people are going to find this book too controversial. Personally, despite the horror of what was going on in those pages, I was hooked. 

The story is told from Lane's point of view, both during the long, hot summer as a naive fifteen year old and ten years later, when she returns to Roanoke bitter, cruel and damaged. I liked the contrast between Lane's character in each section of then or now, which we're given in alternating chapters. Amy Engel creates the perfect atmosphere of oppression and dark secrets, from the eerie setting of Roanoke itself to the claustrophobic and searing heat of the Kansas summer. The cast of characters are damaged and flawed, trapped into the disturbing cycle of the Roanoke family...creepy in their own knowing silence. Added to this, there's an occasional chapter from each of the fated Roanoke Girls who came before Lane. Sprinkled throughout the book like ghosts, the horror at the extent of this family's disturbing and twisted history builds with each one.  

The Roanoke Girls isn't exactly a thriller, there is the mystery of what has happened to Allegra, although my suspicions early on were right here and the author makes the secret of the Roanoke family clear within the first few chapters. This doesn't mean it's without its shocks and twists - it's full of them and I was gripped throughout, holding my breath and unable to look away. This is a dark, disturbing and chilling read, often uncomfortable but twistedly fascinating. I read it in two sittings, only breaking to sleep. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, its dark and taboo subject matter not being easy to stomach, but if you like your books tense, shocking and compulsive with evocative and atmospheric writing and deep, dark family secrets, then I'd recommend it. I thought it was fantastic, even though I sometimes felt I shouldn't! 

(I read an advanced ebook proof supplied by the publisher through Netgalley)

Book Review: Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal

It's late. The phone rings.

The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.

Your daughter.

The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. 

What do you do? 

Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? 

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . . 

In Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time. (From Goodreads.com)

Published by Bonnier Zaffre 9th February 2017 (UK)

As soon as I started reading Eyes Like Mine, I realised it was going to be very different to other other thrillers I've read lately. The tone, style, prose...it was sharp and edgy and very easy to become quickly gripped by.

Nora Watts is a tough, world weary protagonist. She's seen the worst of human nature in her life, and this is reflected in her attitude. She's aloof, suspicious and constantly looking over her shoulder. She keeps herself to herself, squatting in the basement of her employers office and keeping in the shadows of the violent and corrupt world she inhabits, the mangy stray dog who, for some reason latched onto her, the only company she has. But this lady can take care of herself, she's had to. Nora is fiesty and strong, and Eyes Like Mine is a fast paced, action packed thriller throughout.

Nora isn't a likable character. She's an ex-alcoholic, almost vagrant and distrusts most people she knows. She goes out of her way to keep everyone at more than arms length. As her story is revealed throughout the book, I understood why. Nora knows violence and betrayal. She's come to expect nothing less. She appears cold, even when the call about her missing daughter, adopted at birth, comes in. The author never lets Nora's guard slip, even for a second, but there are glimpses of what lurks underneath Nora's iron exterior, just enough to make the reader care what happens to her without slipping into sentimentality or smulch. For this, Nora is utterly believable.

There are some violent scenes in this book, with the setting being the dark and corrupt world of private investigation and billionaire business. It's edge of your seat fast at times, with car chases, gun fights and an ever present sense that danger lurks right around the corner. I did loose my way a little bit regarding Nora's investigation into the Canadian mining business, it got a little to technical for me and I started loosing track of who was who and how it was all connected-however, my confusion wasn't that long lived and is probably down to me not having any idea about billion dollar mining business and  the Canadian setting (there seemed to be a political undertow? It's just not something I know anything about). There's also one thread early on in the book which I kept expecting to resurface, and when it didn't I wondered what the point of it had been. On reflection though, I think it was to show there is a softer, human and empathetic side to Nora.

Eyes like Mine proved to be more action packed, gritty and perhaps political, then what I'd usually choose. I'm not usually drawn to books about corruption, however having read this, I'm glad I did. I raced through it in a couple of sittings and was gripped throughout.

(I read an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine Program)

Sunday Wrap Up - 19th February 2016

 
Woohoo...on Friday I finished work for half term, and although I really love my job, the last few weeks have been intense for various reasons. I was also pretty ill over the Christmas holidays so didn't feel I'd had a proper wind down before going back in January. So for the next week my plans are to read, sort some stuff around the house, read, catch up with some TV and read some more. I've also started doing a bit of blog organising...making some small tweaks to the template, adding in links and general tidying. I need to work out the best way to organise my review A-Z. There's so many reviews here now, I don't think the long list works. I'm thinking of maybe separating by genre also...what do you think? Last night I also began jotting in ideas, plans and schedules in my diary. I'm going to keep this organised this time. Promise!  


Last Week On The Blog 

I reviewed these two fantastic but very different books (you can read my reviews by clicking the images) 


New Books This Week 

I got some fantastic book post this week. 
(clicking on the titles will take you to Goodreads for a summery)

 


Currently Reading  




Hope you all have a wonderful week 

I'm linking this post to the Caffeinated Book reviewers Sunday Post Meme


Book Review: Sealskin by Su Bristow

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. ( From Goodreads.com)  

Published 15th February 2017 by Orenda Books (UK)

I knew, as soon as I read the synopsis for Sealskin, that this was going to be my kind of book. I love re-tellings of old legends and myths and a hint of magic realism. Having read some wonderful reviews and followed the author's fascinatingly interesting blog tour, I couldn't wait to read it for myself.   

Sealskin is set on a Scottish Island in a small fishing village and Su Bristow captures the essence of the rugged landscape and sea beautifully - harsh, raw and at times violent combined with a breathtaking beauty, purity and etherealness. And it's those same qualities which transcend into this exquisite story and the lives of its characters. 

The story begins with Donald, a lonely and often ostracised member of this close knit community, who while out fishing late at night witnesses something magical, something only a few humans have ever seen. His reaction is shocking and uncomfortable, a violent act in contrast the purity of the magic he has just seen. It was difficult here to accept Donald's actions, and I worried that my distaste and anger at what Donald does was so great, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the rest of the book. 

But this where Su Bristow's skill as a master story teller shines. Sealskin is a fairytale-not the watered down, happy ever after ones we're accustomed to nowadays, but of the traditional variety. Dark themes, flawed characters, naivety and wisdom mixing together with a message of hope, learning and overcoming both real and personal demons. I could imagine this story being told by candlelight hundreds of years ago, while remaining as enchanting and relevant to a modern reader.  

I loved the character of Mairhi. She is written with such care that the feelings of calmness and healing she shares with those in the book seep from the page. She doesn't speak, but the lyricism of her aura and eyes expressing her needs and feelings is written so evocatively, I could feel and imagine it myself. Indeed, Su Bristow's prose throughout, from her depictions of characters to descriptions of the stunning scenery and nature, are so mesmerising and vivid, that I truly became lost in the story. While reading, my own surroundings blurred away and I had a feeling of coming out of a dream when looking up from the pages, needing a few seconds to anchor myself back in my own world.  

I went into Sealskin hoping that I would love it, and I did. Every word of it. For me, reading Sealskin was reminiscent of my experience of reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. There aren't many books I can think of that have had this all encompassing effect on me while transporting me to another world, which stays with me so vividly for years to come, but I'm adding Sealskin to that list. 

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He's a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

As Louise, David's new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can't guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage's secrets. (From Goodreads.com) 

Published 26th January 2017 by Hapercollins 

If you have any interest in books whatsoever, it would have been pretty difficult to miss Behind Her Eyes recently. It's hit No.1 in several best seller lists since its release. The buzz on social media, including it's very own hashtag #WTFThatEnding has been overwhelming and with recommendations from some of the biggest names in crime and thriller fiction shouting about its brilliance, Behind Her Eyes is a book that's been on everyone's radar. I couldn't wait to read it. 

Behind Her Eyes tells the tangled story of three people, from the view point of two of them - Louise and Adele. Louise is a single mother, who on a rare night out meets and connects with David - a good looking and successful doctor. When David turns out to be not only her new boss, but also married, Louise is disappointed. But when a chance encounter with Adele, David's wife, leads to friendship, Louise finds herself ever drawn into this strange and captivating couple's world. But all is not as it seems, it soon becomes clear that there's a huge, toxic secret shadowing this seemingly perfect marriage. As Louise becomes closer to both Adele and David, she finds it more and more difficult to know just who to believe.   

Sarah Pinborough knows just how to keep her readers hooked. Behind Her Eyes is compulsive reading, with switching narratives and tendrils of suspense and suggestion careful dropped into each chapter, meaning that "just one more" quickly becomes a massive chunk of book. Her characters are crafted so well that, just like Louise, as a reader it's difficult to know who to trust. There's just the right amount of chilling, especially from Adele, to send shivers down your spine and keep you holding your breath, desperate to know what's going to happen next. 

The ending of this book has created a massive stir, and you really do need to go into it not knowing what it could be to get the full impact. Because of all the hype surrounding it, I was second guessing it all the way through. I'm going to be honest and say I half guessed, which for me probably did soften the impact. I'd read a book over twenty-five years ago by a popular teen author of the time with a similar theme, and could see exactly where things were going. Yet, even when I smugly thought I'd worked this book out, the author still managed to throw a curveball that made me go "OH" - it turned out to not be exactly what I thought it was after all. 

Behind Her Eyes is very different to most psychological thrillers around at the moment, in that it throws in a slightly paranormal element. Now I'm all for suspending belief and love twists like this, so in my opinion this was only a good thing. But if you are someone who struggles with anything other than reality, then this book isn't for you. Personally, although I wasn't quite as shocked and surprised by the ending as some other reviewers, I thought Behind Her Eyes was a very good book and I enjoyed it immensely. I'll be looking out for more of this authors work in the future. 


Sunday Wrap Up - 12th February 2017

 

I've only managed to read one book this week, it's been really busy both at work and with my daughter needing ferrying about to after school sport activities. Anyway, it was THIS book 

 

But you'll have to wait and read my review tomorrow to find out what I thought about #wtfTHAT ending 

I'm currently reading Sealskin by Su Bristow. I've read so many wonderful reviews of this book and I do love a bit of folklore and magical realism. I only managed a few lines last night before I nodded off...tiredness after a hectic week won out. I am looking forward to getting completely lost in this story though. 

 

Last week on the blog I reviewed two very different but equally great books. If you'd like to check out my reviews, just click on the images. 

Her Husband's Lover 

I also had a couple of new books make their way to me.  

 

And finally, some exciting news was that Katherine at BibliomaniacUK nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award, which was very much appreciated. It's always really lovely to have acceptance from other bloggers and to know they like what you do. It really is what I missed most about the book blogging community while I was away from it. Thanks Katherine, I'll be reciprocating next week with a post and some nominations of my own.  


I'm linking my post to The Caffeinated Book Reviewer's Sunday Post meme 








Book Review: If Ever I Fall by S.D Robertson

Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. All he’s ever wanted is to keep his family together, but everything seems beyond repair and, try as he might, he can’t turn back time.

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered, unable to connect with the real world.

In the face of real tragedy, can this couple find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through? (From Goodreads.com)

Published 9th February 2017, by Avon, UK

If Ever I Fall is boldly recommended for fans of Jojo Moyes -an author I really enjoy. And it was that claim which first drew me to the book. Well ok, the cover too, because yeah. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover. Anyway, after investigating further I was convinced, this did indeed sound like a book that would be right up my street.

I picked it up to read last Saturday morning. Typically, I had woken up early on my day off (why does that always happen?) and even though I had a list as long as my arm of things to do, it was early enough to have a relaxing morning and squeeze in a bit of reading first. BIG mistake. I ended up glued and pretty much lost my entire morning, and some of the afternoon. But it was worth it.

If Ever I Fall is a story told from three perspectives. Dan is struggling with the break up of his family, living alone in a flat he hates and missing his wife and daughter. Maria, Dan's wife, writes letters to someone who she know's will never answer, in an attempt to make sense of events which have devastated her family's life. Then there's Jack. He doesn't know who he is....he's suffering from amnesia. One thing's for sure though...something is certainly not right about his surroundings. How can he find out the truth when he can't even remember who he is?

Wow! When I thought this was a book that would be right up my street I was right. I quickly became engrossed in all three character's lives and felt I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster alongside them. I loved the way that Dan and Maria's story unfolded throughout the book, so that as a reader, when realisation about their situation slowly dawned and pieces of the jigsaw were put together in my mind, I could really understand and empathise with them. I especially loved the addition of Jack....I had absolutely no idea how he related to the story at first and was intrigued by his situation. When I did realise, I was blown away. It's not something I've come across in this way before and gives the whole book an interesting and unique twist.

If Ever I Fall is an emotional read which had me wiping away tears and holding my breath. It's a tale of grief, loss and despair-but there's also hope and the underlying sense that strength comes from those we love, if only we can realise this and reach out. I finished this book feeling that I'd been on a real journey with the characters and thought about it for hours after. It is a beautifully written, engrossing and unique story, and I loved it.

(I read an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine program) 


Book Review: Her Husband's Lover by Julia Crouch


Her Husband's LoverShe stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died. 

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though. 

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her - the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband's lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? (From Goodreads.com) 


Published January 26th 2017 by Headline


Well. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I first began reading Her Husband's Lover. Yes, it's a psychological thriller/domestic noir and so by it's very nature I wasn't expecting all to be as it first appears, it quickly became apparent once I started reading that the author was taking me in a completely different direction to the one I thought I was going. 

Her Husband's Lover begins with a horrific car accident and introduces us to Louisa, at once a sympathetic and tragic character. However, using flashbacks to the past, grains of another truth are slowly revealed. The chapter's switch between Now and then, giving the reader two versions of the reality they know and the events that lead into it. I really liked this, it was like a picture was built up and then block by block, knocked back down. I absolutely loved the character development of Louisa throughout the book,there's many layers and twists to her and just when you think you know her, something else comes along to make you think again. 

As well as chapters from Louisa's past and present there's a third narrative, that of Sophie - bitter and bent on revenge. She's an equally complex character although, and It's difficult to explain without giving away too much of the plot, but I never felt I fully understood her, even by the end of the book. Perhaps though the intention was to keep her as somewhat an enigma...or maybe it was just me. 

Her Husband's Lover is a dark tale of infidelity and toxic marriage, with a cast of characters driven by betrayal, manipulation, revenge and jealousy. With every twist and turn, the author manages to shake the reader's own emotions, sympathy and trust in her characters culminating in one big explosive ending. If I had one more minor niggle, it would be that despite being a very large book, the ending when it came seemed abrupt, leaving me with questions as well as answers. Minor quibbles aside, Her Husband's Lover is cleverly written and intricately woven story which had me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath often. I'd recommend it. 

(I read an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine Programme)

Weekly Wrap up - Thoughts On My First Week Back On The Blog


So, yes, after eighteen months absence, here I am again. I debated about doing a "What I've Been Up To" post, but ended up diving straight back in with a review. I hadn't planned such a long hiatus, but following the sudden declining health and subsequent loss of my Nana in 2015 (who I've wrote about frequently on the blog) and really struggling with this, the months just seemed to creep around quickly. Life became hectic. Work became full time and with ever increasing responsibilities, Son went off to Uni, and then came home again (a worrying couple of months now rectified and back on track!) and Daughter started secondary. The open uni course became the focus for the very little spare time I had left. Late 2015 and early 2016 was busy, stressful and trying in so, so many different ways.

But life has calmed down again lately. My children seem to need me less and less, I have spare time and naturally, I turned to picking up books to fill it. Books for fun! But once a book blogger, always a book blogger and that need to chat and share resurfaced. So, I'm here and on twitter, catching up with the book world and getting to know new people. It's a bit daunting, almost like starting over from new, but hopefully I can become part of it again. I hadn't realised just how much I had missed it and all you lovely book people out there.

Anyway, with that pondering out of the way, here's what I've been up to reading wise this week.


On The Blog  

I Reviewed Her Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn Here   

 

Coming Up   

I finished two books this week and will be reviewing those 

If Ever I Fall by S.D. RobertsonHer Husband's Lover by Julia Crouch


I've also got a mini reviews blog with some books I read over Christmas or reviewed on Amazon to share and a couple of ideas for other posts. I also plan on participating in some of my favourite memes.  

New Books    
Well it didn't take long on twitter before my TBR and Wishlist took a sudden surge. I treated myself to two new books on payday (Gosh, January was a looong month)  





I also picked up some arc's I can't wait to read either  



I'm planning on reading Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough...there's been so much talk about it and I really want to know what #WTFThatEnding is all about. 


Have a lovely week  

PS - I've just realised that I'm not sure if this should be linked up to a feature somewhere. Apologies if it should and it isn't. Please do point me in the right direction...everything is different and I'm a bit lost!





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