Saturday, 21 March 2020

[Blog tour] Review - The River Home by Hannah Richell

The River Home by Hannah Richell
Release date: 19 March 2020
Publisher: Orion Books
Back cover blurb: The river can take you home. The river can take you under... In their ramshackle Somerset home, its gardens running down to the river, the Sorrells have gathered for a last-minute wedding. Lucy is desperate to reunite her fractured family. Eve is fighting to keep her perfect life together. Their mother, Kit, a famous author whose stories have run dry, still seethes with resentment towards her youngest child. And Margot, who left home eight years ago under a black cloud, is forced to come face to face with her darkness... As the family come together for a week of celebration and confrontation, their relationships are stretched to breaking point. Can you ever heal the wounds of the past? Or will it always rise up to haunt you - like the echoes of a summer's night, like the relentless flow of a river...?

The River Home is a novel that I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time. I am a big fan of Hannah Richell’s and her novels never disappoint, so I was delighted to be asked to take part in the official blog tour.

Windfalls, the Sorrell family home in Somerset is preparing for a wedding, and a reunion.

Eve, Lucy, Margot, three very different sisters, all grown adults who have taken very different paths in life are bought back together at their family home in Somerset for Lucy’s wedding to Tom. 

Eve, the eldest, at first glance, appears to have it all. A loving husband, beautiful children. But her overwhelming desire to help others and keep secrets safe, could be her unraveling.

Lucy, the middle sister, about to marry Tom after a whirlwind romance, has a secret, but it isn’t what anyone is expecting. Hers is not the ‘shotgun’ wedding of her family’s expectations.

Margot, the youngest, left home at Sixteen after an incident that no one has ever spoken of again. She is reluctant to return for Lucy’s wedding but knows that she must, to try and put the past behind her. 

The sisters must all come together to ensure Lucy’s big day goes off without a hitch. But can the secrets of the past, and present stay buried long enough for that to happen?

The River Home is a beautifully written novel of family relationships, struggles and secrets. I can’t wait to read the authors next!

The River Home is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced copy of The River Home in exchange for an honest review.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

Friday, 21 February 2020

Review - When We Were Brave by Suzanne Kelman

When We Were Brave by Suzanne Kelman
Release date:
Back cover blurb: 1944, Cornwall: Blinded by love, Vivienne Hamilton eloped to Paris with a Nazi prisoner-of-war, never to be seen again. A disgrace to her family, her name would not be mentioned by any of her relatives for over 75 years. Present day, London: When Sophie discovers a photograph of her great aunt Vivi from World War Two, it throws her into a world of confusion. Because, as she learns about this secret relative, she quickly realises that the photograph doesn’t fit with her family’s story. It shows Vivi leaving an address associated with a spy network in London – a place she had no reason to be – and it is dated right before she disappeared. Meanwhile Sophie’s own life feels as blasted and bombed as the blitzed city in the photograph she’s looking at. Her beautiful daughter – as full of joy and wild energy as Vivi had apparently once been – is gone; and Sophie’s heart has been left broken into pieces. Retreating to the family home in rural Cornwall to seek solace from her pain and the feelings of guilt that she could have done more to protect her daughter, Sophie finds herself becoming obsessed with Vivi’s life. But nothing can prepare Sophie for what she is about to uncover – the story of a woman who risked everything for the person she loved the most; and a secret family history that could be the key to Sophie’s own future. 

Vivienne Hamilton is young, beautiful and slightly naive when she is sent to France in the midst of World War II.  A top secret member of SOE, she is determined to do her bit for the War effort and stop the Nazi's invading her beloved Blighty.

But her position is compromised, meaning that she must be sent back to Britain. She is devastated and still determined, so she retrains as a Nurse at the family home in Cornwall, where she meets and falls in love with an injured young man.

In the present day, Sophie is exhibiting at the imperial war museum, when she comes across a woman in a photograph that looks eerily like her Mother. She knows that it must be someone in the family, but she cannot recall ever seeing a photograph of the young woman before.

After liasing with her Grandmother and her family in Cornwall, Sophie discovers the woman's identity. Vivienne Hamilton, her great aunt. Lost to the war, but never spoken of in family circles. 

'Villainous Vivienne' as she was christened by her family supposedly run off with the enemy (a high ranking Nazi officer) to France, never to be seen again.

The photograph itself makes no sense though, as it shows Vivienne leaving SOE HQ in London long after her return from France.

Sophie, a romantic at heart, is certain that there must be more to the story, and she deals with her own losses, her great aunt's story becomes critical to her recovery.

When We Were Brave is a wonderfully researched, beautifully written novel, and I look forward to the author's next.

When We Were Brave is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Review - Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Publisher: Viking
Release date: 20 February 2020
Back cover blurb: A luminous, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash. One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.  Dear Edward depicts Edward's life in the crash's aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle's garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life's most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is a beautiful coming of age novel. A tragic, but inspiring tale of how through loss, one person is able to find themselves.

Edward is the sole survivor of a horrific plane crash, that takes the lives of his parents and brother, effectively leaving him an Orphan.

After a long recovery he is able to live with his Aunt and Uncle, in a town he is unfamiliar with, a place he doesn't want to be without his family.

Edward clearly has survivor's guilt, but he does not know this at twelve years old.

He befriends the girl next door, she helps him through the darkest of times, and it is with her that he discovers the secret his Uncle has been keeping from him.

Letters written to him from the other plane crash victims families. Some begging to know of their relatives last movements, some wanting to know every detail of the crash.

Dear Edward is a unique novel, unlike anything I have read before. 

Dear Edward is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Review - The Holdout by Graham Moore

The Holdout by Graham Moore
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Release date: 20 February 2020
Back cover blurb: One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong? 'Ten years ago we made a decision together...' Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It's an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed. Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever. Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect. The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

Maya Seale is reluctant to re-visit an infamous murder trial on which she was a juror. That was ten years ago and she has had to live with her decision ever since. For she was the one who convinced her fellow jurors that Bobby Nock was innocent.

Convicted and on trial for the kidnap and murder of schoolgirl Jessica Silver, Bobby Nock's defence had failed to sway the majority of the jury. who were firmly on the side of the prosecution and it's largely circumstantial evidence.

Maya's closest ally during that time was fellow juror, Rick, and although he apparently turned on her after the trial in favour of 'seeking justice' for Jessica Silver and published a book condemning himself and other jurors for making the decision they did, Maya still trusts him inherently.

He is the reason that she says 'Yes' to a reunion of the jurors for a television documentary ten years on from the original verdict and he is the reason that she herself is the subject of a murder investigation. After an argument in her hotel room, Maya storms out leaving Rick alone, and comes back to find him dead, assumed murdered with herself as the prime suspect.

As she fights to clear her own name, she discovers things about her fellow jurors and the original trial, that could have changed everything back then. 

But is that knowledge enough to save either her or Bobby now?

The Holdout is available now from 20 February.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Review - The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Release date: 23 January 2020
Back cover blurb: Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night, Stella's Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It's a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door. Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella's - the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life? Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella's Café, where one day might just be enough to change your life . . .

The 24-Hour Café, or as it's officially known, Stella's Café literally never sleeps. It's home to waitress friends and flat mates, Hannah and Mona who both harbour dreams of being on stage in the West End.

Hannah as a singer, Mona as a dancer.

Now I am a huge fan of people watching at the best of times, I could literally sit in my local coffee shop all day doing it, but if I lived anywhere near Stella's I would probably be in there for days.

Maybe weeks, maybe permanently as it never closes (and the choice of food and drinks sound divine!).

We meet Hannah and Mona in the middle of the night as Mona finishes her shift, and Hannah is about to begin hers. Hannah has had some bad news, which she is reluctant to share with her friend, as she doesn't want to bring either of them down.

These are tough times for the pair, as their friends are getting married, having children, successful careers, and Hannah and Mona are still waitressing, dreaming of a better life - is it time to move on?

Then Mona receives some news that will test their friendship to it's limits, as there are things that she has been hiding from Hannah in order to protect her.

The 24-Hour Café will always be there through the most challenging of times, but will Hannah and Mona's friendship survive the same?

The 24-Hour Café is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Review - Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder

Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: 23 January 2020
Back cover blurb: A mother moves to Geneva with her husband and their two young children. In their beautiful new rented apartment, surrounded by their rented furniture, and several Swiss instructions to maintain quiet, she finds herself totally isolated. Her husband’s job means he is almost never present, and her entire world is caring for her children – making sure they are happy, and fed and comfortable, and that they can be seen as the happy, well-fed, comfortable family they should be. Everything is perfect. But, of course, it’s not. The isolation, the sleeplessness, the demands of two people under two, are getting to Erika. She has never been so alone, and once the children are asleep, there are just too many hours to fill until morning . . . Kyra Wilder’s Little Bandaged Days is a beautifully written, painfully claustrophobic story about a woman’s descent into madness. Unpredictable, frighteningly compelling and brutally honest, it grapples with the harsh conditions of motherhood and this mother’s own identity, and as the novel continues, we begin to wonder just what exactly Erika might be driven to do.

Little Bandaged Days is a beautifully written novel, but it might take some readers a little out their usual relaxation zone.

Written from our main protagonist's perspective, Little Bandaged Days takes us on a journey with her from arrival in Geneva, Switzerland through to her descent into madness.

The family's move from the US to Switzerland is a move facilitated by her husband's high flying career. He is the main breadwinner of the family, now that they have two children to care for.

After their initial arrival in Geneva, he is quickly sucked into the work environment where he spends almost of all his time. Leaving his wife, alone at home with their two young children.

She doesn't speak the local language, so even things like going to the local shops are difficult for her to manage. Her once mild anxiety worsens, as she spends her days alone with the children and her paranoia increases with every moment.

Little Bandaged Days is a very clever literary novel that won't be for everyone, but will be a delight for those daring enough to venture out of their comfort zone.

Little Bandaged Days is available now via Amazon online
Thank You to the publisher who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.