Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

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Published July 2020 by Simon & Schuster (Scribner UK)


I received this book to participate in the Kaleidoscopic Tours campaign on Bookstagram. Please hop over there and check it out plus the other reviewers involved!


Synopsis

July, 1962

Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?

The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.

If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.  

Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.


Review

I read this pretty much in one sitting – right from the opening chapter (hilarious by the way) the reader gets a fantastic sense of Evie Epworth. Told in first person, with dollops of wit, you can really get into her headspace which is: teenager, finishing school, no idea what to do now type worries. School? Librarian? Vet? Evie is a strong willed young woman who knows full well what she doesn’t want to do however which only adds fuel to the fire with her new soon to be stepmother, who just wants Evie out of the way.

Getting pure Cinderella vibes from this (which is acknowledged in the narrative) however I loved how Evie didn’t need a prince to come and save her. Instead she rallies up friends and neighbours to help -I think my favourite character was Evie’s next door neighbour, Mrs Scott-Pym who has all of the secrets and all of the sage-advice that every teenage girl needs in her life. Their relationship was really heartwarming for me and made Evie even more relatable to a lot of readers, the Yorkshire setting really highlighted the rural lifestyle and Evie’s desire to want more especially when she begins learning about her mother’s life.

Evie is the embodiment of a typical teenage girl in my opinion – enjoys cake, biscuits, reading, pop singers – I loved it when The Beatles got involved – what a fabulous soundtrack! I wish I had been a teenager in the 60’s! Evie is headstrong but also clumsy and not afraid to try – a wonderful role model! I was gutted to finish reading this and I really hope that there’s more – even if it’s not Evie – maybe her best friend Margaret who I didn’t feel got enough page time!

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a wonderful coming-of-age tale has become one of my favourites this year and is available on Kindle and Hardback now!

Goodreads Rating 5 / 5

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour! The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin

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Published by Black & White Publishing in February 2017!


Today is my stop on the Book Tour for this wonderful novel! Thanks so much to Love Books Group for having me along again, after reading Sisters of Berlin I couldn’t not sign up for The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days and I was NOT disappointed!


Synopsis

Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed first-hand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies…a story that will mean someone else s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.


Review

Ahhh as I said above after reading Sisters of Berlin (also with Love Books Group) when I saw the offer to read The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days also by Juliet Conlin I couldn’t say no and I have to say I think I may have enjoyed it even more!

While the story starts off slow and it took me a while to get to grips with the points of view, once I got to 20% I was hooked and couldn’t put it down! This story was so lovely. Alfred shot straight to my heart with his story from growing up in Germany, his childhood torn apart when his parents passed away leaving him orphaned in Berlin; to being conscripted in the war, living in the UK and then heading back to Berlin as an old man I just wanted to know everything about his story.

The story introduces Alfred as he has traveled to Berlin to meet his grand-daughter. When she doesn’t meet him at the station as promised – Alfred meets Julia, who ends up listening to Alfred’s story over six days. Between the chapters telling Alfred’s story, we also get chapters focusing on Julia and on Brynja. Julia, who almost takes the place of the reader – learning Alfred’s story and dealing with her own circumstances whilst becoming the bridge between him and his grand-daughter. Brynja also has some chapters focusing on herself, but to me they were confusing and kind of complicated (they are supposed to be) which is what took me a while to get into contact with when I started reading.

The words ‘listen closely’ are written on the cover of this novel and they couldn’t be more apt for this narrative. In part they relate to the story that Alfred needs Julia to hear but they also relate to the voices which Alfred hears of three women. He is told as a child that the ability is passed down in his family. The voices are a character themselves and their words intercept seamlessly into the narrative which works to more closely enfold the reader into the tale Alfred is telling.

Juliet Conlin has fast become as author I need to get more of! I’m going to be hnting down all of her novels! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂 The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner is heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one and is actually on Kindle Unlimited right now and also available in paperback and I urge you all to get yourselves a copy now so you can experience this special story first-hand.

Goodreads Rating 4 / 5

 

 

 

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour! The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie

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Published July 21st by Vine Leaves Press


Today is my stop on the tour for The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie!

Thanks Love Books Tours for inviting me along and sending a review copy of the book!


Synopsis

A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?

When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.


Review

Wow, okay. This is going to be a really short review because it’s hard to talk about without ruining some detail of the story.

There are some aspects of The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce that I loved – it was mysterious, it bent genres and is probably the most creative book, in terms of content, that I’ve read this year. It is ambitious and it doesn’t hold back and that is amazing. By the end of the book I felt it covered a lot of ground in regards to dealing with grief and loss – hard topics to contain in the narrative!

However I did find that there were some things I didn’t enjoy which, while small, really affected my overall enjoyment of the story. I didn’t like Jacob, as a character I couldn’t get into his head and that really made me lose connection since we spent the entire novel following him – maybe this is intentional? He is strange after all. I also didn’t enjoy that amount of spanish in the novel – I have nothing against the language but to be honest, I don’t understand it so anything written in spanish was words I just skimmed over and it became another thing which kicked me out of connection with the narrative.

As you can see, these might be insignificant details to some people and I would always urge anyone to read something even if I took some negatives away. Parts of this novel I felt were very Da Vinci Code (I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed that book) and you can really feel the amount of research and work that went into the writing; Gillespie has a lot of talent in his writing style and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for his books in future.

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce is available to buy now on kindle and in paperback.

All in all this book was definitely mind bending and I would urge fans of Blake Crouch and Stephen King to read it!

Goodreads Rating 3 / 5

Posted in book review, fiction, gifted

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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Published in the UK by Dialogue Books – June 2020


Synopsis

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


Review

I want to start by saying that this book was a complete surprise to me. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the book by Tandem Collective so that I could join in on one of their summer readalongs and it was so much more than I expected it to be. The group I was in a chat with was fantastic and we had pretty similar views and outcomes from the novel.

Brit Bennett has such a wonderful voice and she uses it powerfully in The Vanishing Half – I went into this novel after reading the above synopsis, thinking it was a tale of losing a sister, a twin, a part of your soul but I took away so much more than that. 

Brit tells the story of the twins through their parents and their children and how the events they all lived through affected them – the twins leave their hometown and separate as young women, pursuing different lives and lifestyles. Stella, “crosses over” and chooses to live as white, married to a white man, in a middle class neighbourhood and Desiree chooses to marry a black man, who she leaves and ends up back home, taking her daughter with her to the town she tried so hard to leave.

Between the intertwining narratives, Brit tackles how racism and flaws in society affect its inhabitants and she does this inclusively, representing black people, white people, men, women, transgender and different sexualities. I think my favourite characters in the novel were Reese and Jude, the steps they make towards equality is so wonderfully written and they were such diverse and deep characters I couldn’t help but wish for more of their story as I read the book! 

Ultimately, this novel for me was about identity and how a person can shape their identity to what they want and need it to be, through conscious and subconscious actions; how their relationships mould their identity and ultimately, it is about losing a part of yourself to (find yourself) become that identity. 

I can’t recommend this book enough, while the first few chapters were slow and introductory, it did not take long for me to get sucked in and need to finish! I will be looking out for more of Bennett’s books! You can buy The Vanishing Half now on Amazon for Kindle or in Hardback.

Goodreads Rating 4.5 (5) / 5

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Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour – The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

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Published by Orenda Books – July 9th 2020


Today is my stop on the tour for The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith!

This tour has been organised by Anne Cater and Orenda Books – thanks for my review copy!


Synopsis

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable: a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms.’ Hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything.
Because Kate is not the only secret that her birth mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern world to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.


Review

Sufficiently creepy, Eve Smith’s debut novel is quite the achievement. In one fell swoop she has created a narrative around a very real issue and totally blown it up to create an engaging and thought-provoking book.

I think the writing was easy going (my favourite kind) – despite using medical and scientific terms I managed to follow along just fine! The story seamlessly weaves together narratives from different perspectives, between pre-crisis and during crisis and Smith manages this with ease which is no mean feat. Although I found the narrative to be a bit of a slow burn, it definitely grew and grew making sure I paid attention to everything that was going on with the protagonists.

The world Smith has created (a real possibility according to the facts) is suspiciously realistic. At the end of the novel Smith includes some facts about antibiotics which throws the novel into some perspective against reality – I would like to say I’ve gone away and read all her resources but I haven’t yet – I’m too creeped out! If YOU want to read up about however, you can find Eve’s website here. The detail Smith has included in her narrative is refreshing – showing she has put a lot of time and effort in to her research and using it well within her writing.

After I finished reading I had a think and decided it’s pretty hard to put this book into a singular genre. There was mystery and thriller aspects, obviously a bit of medical thrown in and a pinch of some sci-fi, not to mention some romantic and family drama! A little bit of action would have helped to move the story along and add some excitement but then it may have lost some of it’s realism.

Overall – Enjoyable but for me, just missing something!

The Waiting Rooms is released on July 9th – you can pre-order it today for Kindle and in Paperback.

Goodreads Rating 3 / 5

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction

Book Tour – No Regrets by Tabitha Webb

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Published by HQ – June 2020 (ebook)


Today is my stop on the tour for No Regrets by Tabitha Webb! Thanks to HQ for sending me a digital review copy so I could take part!


SYNOPSIS

Best friends Stella, Ana and Dixie have always lived life to the full. But now they’re approaching their forties, reality is starting to kill the mood…

Stella loves her children, but misses her glittering career. Plus she can’t even remember the last time she had sex.

Ana is trying for a baby with her partner Rex. So why can’t she stop thinking about the one that got away?

Dixie is the wildest of them all. A Tinder addict who’ll never settle down. But has she accidentally found Mr Right…?

It’s time for the friends to shake things up and start having some fun. Because you only regret the things you don’t do, right?


Review

While I read some chick lit novels, I felt this one was a little outside my expertise. It’s a sassy interpretation of women going through different stages of their lives even though they are the same age. One a  married mother, one wanting to be a mother and one who has no inclination of settling down.

Sounds a bit cliche?

Maybe, but Tabitha Webb approaches each of these women’s lives with an open mind, they come across situations which, although I personally saw them as unnecessary, they lent some humour and life-lessons for the reader.

My favourite thing about the narrative was how equally each woman was followed, I didn’t feel like I knew one better than the other but I guess the downside of this is that you don’t fully connect with the characters – this could possibly be my age too! I’m early thirties so the idea that getting to forty is some kind of dead-end isn’t something I can relate too! Give me a few years and I might tell you something different!

Either way, I found this a light-hearted and easy to read book which gave me some much needed escapism. It’s is recommended for lovers of Bridget Jones, Sex & the City etc which I would definitely agree with! The friendship shown in the narrative is funny, with the interactions being very easy-going and familiar which gives a nice rapport between characters. I think I would have liked to have gotten more information from some of the male view points to give a more rounded narrative.

The book is out now on kindle and you can get it from Amazon here! Paperback release is due 23rd July!

Goodreads Rating 3 / 5