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A Place of Reckoning by J F Burgess – Blog Tour

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Something a little different for you today 🙂 

I have been lucky enough to snag a spot of the Blog Tour for A Place of Reckoning by J F Burgess which is organised by Love Books Tours and I am coming at you with a short excerpt of the book!

Blurb

Three women. Two bodies. One deadly secret.
Pottery tycoon Charles Lancaster knows who kidnapped his wife.
He’s sure it was the brutally dangerous ex bare-knuckle fighter, Patrick Dunne. Patrick promised to avenge his son who died in a tragic accident in one of Charles’ factories. It’s an open and shut case…
 …until a headless body turns up in a remote Peak District pool, its back tattooed with a cryptic Tarot card. As Detective Inspector Tom Blake and FBI profiler Lucy Stryker dig into the mystery, they unearth long-buried secrets about an historic conspiracy and a clandestine cult. But with a sadistic killer on the loose, and everyone hiding things, it’s not just the victim’s life that hangs in the balance. Will anyone get out alive?
Because when the powerful are pointing the finger, you’d better watch your back…

Excerpt

The light was fading and rain lashed down in front of the Astra’s headlights as Detective Inspector Tom Blake and Detective Sergeant John Murphy came to a standstill at the top of a long, litter-strewn alleyway that ran behind a row of boarded-up terraced houses on Wells Street, Middleport. The once-thriving industrial area was pencilled in for regeneration by the council, but money from central government hadn’t materialised. Like most of old Stoke-on-Trent from the turn of the nineteenth century, factories and workers’ houses nearby were in a poor state of repair. Years of neglect had seen to that. The two detectives felt sorry for those elderly residents who’d clung to the glories of a past of full employment and thriving community. Now they lived amid empty terraced houses and an influx of East Europeans looking for unskilled work.

‘You reckon Denzel Glennie is back at it, then?’ DI Blake asked his DS, John Murphy.

‘Sex cases like him don’t change, despite what the shrinks say. They can’t be healed. He’s got a taste for knocking prostitutes around. He gets off on it. His stash of Viagra was in double figures last time we arrested him,’ Murphy said.

‘The office manager uses it.’

Murphy grinned, ‘Nick Pemberton’s on the blue diamonds?’

‘Says he needs them to keep pace with all these MILFs he’s dating. Says they’re hornier than any under-twenty-fives he’s been with,’ Blake said.

‘Jesus! Evermore likely his missus won’t take him back. ’

‘Anyway, this is Glennie’s stomping ground. There’ve been several reports of dealing and soliciting in this area over the last two weeks. The old lady in number sixty-eight there is petrified. She’s told PC Haynes she doesn’t go out after dark. Seeing Glennie with his pants down was the last straw for her.’

‘I don’t blame her, look at the state of this place.’ DS Murphy flicked on the wipers to wash away another deluge from the windscreen.

‘Hopefully, this bloody lot will ease up. Don’t fancy getting soaked. Which property is the dealing going on at?’

‘See that brown wheelie bin?’ Murphy pointed to the stranded bin leaning against a wall. ‘The working girls are using a row of three terraced in the middle there. They’re most likely knocked through. Like those cannabis farms the Drug Squad raided in Longton last month.’


A Place of Reckoning is the second novel in the Detective Tom Blake series and is available now at an amazing price for Kindle!

You can find the first novel here.

And A Place of Reckoning here.

I can’t wait to hear what you guys think 😉 

Thank you Love Books Tours for letting me be a part of the tour!

 

Cat x

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Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin

Published by Black & White Publishing (March 2020)


Synopsis

BERLIN 2019.

A young writer is brutally attacked in her home and left for dead. For her sister Nina Bergmann, it’s the beginning of a nightmare that will threaten to destroy her marriage, her job and – ultimately – her life. As she sets out to unravel the truth about what really happened to her sister, Nina comes face-to-face with inner demons she believed long since banished and discovers that her sister’s past and that of the once-divided city are intertwined in unimaginable ways. The Wall may be gone, but its legacy still haunts Berlin . . .

Review

I was gifted this book by LoveBooksTours in exchange for an honest review.

Today is my stop on the Book Tour for Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin.

This book was a really easy read for me, the characters were relatable and the narrative flowed smoothly from one chapter to the next. I devoured this novel and it gave me satisfaction from beginning to end. It was set in Berlin too which is one of my favourite places to visit, it is such a beautiful city to explore and it is so full of history.

I thought I was going in to a murder mystery in this book but what I got was a deep evaluation of a woman who had lost her sister brutally and how she needed to find comfort and move through her grief. The narrative was reflective on her situation, I never once thought anything contained in the book was forced and to be honest, apart from one tiny thing, I didn’t think any of the novel was predictable which is a real win!

I really connected with Nina, she is a strong and capable female character in a horrible situation. The relationships she has as a mother, wife and daughter are all shown in equal measure within the novel and how she balances these after her sister is murdered is explored and frankly, admirable in its conclusion.

Considering its context, I did find this an easy and enjoyable read and would recommend. Although it draws from history in some of its plot points, it isn’t heavily referenced so for me it didn’t detract from the story.

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The Twin by Natasha Preston

IMG_20200302_150349_668.jpgPublished March 2020 by Delacorte Press


Synopsis

After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were split up–Ivy lived with Dad, Iris with Mom. Now, after a tragic accident takes their mom’s life, the twins are reunited and Iris moves in with Ivy and their dad. Devastated over Mom’s death, Iris spends the first few weeks in almost total silence–the only person she will speak to is Ivy. Iris feels her life is over and she doesn’t know what to do. Ivy promises her twin that she can share her life now. After all, they’re sisters. Twins.
It’s a promise that Iris takes seriously. And before long, Ivy’s friends, her life at school, and her boyfriend, Tyler, fall under Iris’s spell. Slowly, Ivy realizes she’s being pushed out of her own life. But she’s just being paranoid, right? And Mom’s accident was . . . just an accident. Right? It’s not like she–or Dad–or Tyler–are in any danger. . . .

Review

I was sent this book by the publisher and it was my first foray into Natasha Preston’s writing.

I really didn’t enjoy this book. I’ve given it a two star rating purely because I finished it and that was only because it wasn’t a difficult read and I wanted to know how it all finished (and how it could be finished). I personally didn’t think the ending was worth it, I didn’t feel it resolved anything (was that the point? – I genuinely don’t know).

It is a shame because I usually lap up the good twin/ bad twin trope but alas, this just didn’t work for me and I knew it from the first few chapters. The main character twin, Ivy (the one you are supposed to care about), is so self-centred and annoying, the narrative is from her point of view but she constantly jumps to weird accusations about her twin, Iris. Every chapter pretty much ends with her asking herself ‘why does my twin want my life?’ and half the time Iris hadn’t even done anything … the actions just didn’t match the accusation a lot of the time causing me to find the narrative disjointed and unenjoyable.

I think if the story had been a little more imaginative and unique I would have felt differently. I was really excited to read this one but unfortunately I just don’t think it worked!

Goodreads Rating: 2 / 5

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If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Published 2020 by Harper Collins (UK – Right Cover)

Synopsis

Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance

(They set the rules via email)

Everyone can see they’re head over heels

(They staged the photos)

This must be true love

(They’re faking it)

When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she’s blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together.

So when she gets stuck in the lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet…

Review

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review and I loved it. The perfect recipe for Lockdown Distraction, it mixed nicely the fake relationship trope with relatable characters, a pinch of drama and an amazing setting (Manchester FYI). I really enjoyed imagining the characters walking down Deansgate and St Peter’s Square. They even ventured over to Lincoln which is really close to where I grew up.

This is the first book I’ve read by Mhairi McFarlane and I’m so glad I did, I’m going to be visiting all of her previous novels now! If I Never Met You was an easy and enjoyable read without being too simple. Not that it was complex either – it was just right! It had just the right amount of drama to keep me intrigued and emotionally involved and the characters’ situations were well designed and pretty true-to-life in my opinion.

As a 30 something year old living in Manchester myself it was so easy to follow the narrative and feel that connection with Laurie. While her situation made my jaw drop to begin with she had an excellent and dry sense of humour as well as relatable relationships with her friends, colleagues and family. Jamie was adorable, as a bit of a rogue, you know where the story is going but everything unravelled and the ‘relationship’ developed at a natural speed and not at all rushed.

If I Never Met You is a wonderful story and one I think I may revisit again in the future and is currently only 99p on Amazon!  for Kindle 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5

 

 

 

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Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

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Published April 2020 by MacMillan Childrens

Synopsis

Don’t be easy. Don’t give it up. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be cold. Don’t put him in the friendzone. Don’t act desperate. Don’t let things go too far. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t blame him for trying. Don’t walk alone at night. But calm down! Don’t worry so much. Smile!

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her.

No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

Review

I was sent this novel to review from Netgalley.

As an adult, this book didn’t make the best impression on me I’m afraid. Written by two authors (although I have no knowledge of Katie Cotugno) and two female authors at that, I expected the subject matter to be handled with a little more tact than it was. I know that I am not this book’s target audience but from a Contemporary Young Adult novel I was really disappointed.

Marin as a main character is perfect, she is what you expect – kind, smart and independent as a reader I was firmly on her side of the battle from the start. The teacher involved, Bex (don’t even get me started) is awful and cringey from the get go and Marin’s best friend is pretty horrible and so is her boyfriend. I’m not quite sure what Marin did to warrant having such nasty people in her life! The parents of a few kids are introduced too however and they came across pretty well, being supportive and diverse.

Despite this, I found the narrative to be too simple. The book sits at around 300 pages and took me between 2.5 – 3 hours to read. For such a heavy subject matter, I would have wanted a bit more delving in to the relationships of the novel to get me more involved and emotionally connected. I feel like it skims the surface just to pass on its main message but doesn’t really hit the mark. On every page I was struggling not to roll my eyes at some of the obvious plot points that are supposed to be hints but instead end up being glaringly obvious but as I said initially, I read this book as an adult, not the young adult it was intended for. I would like to think, in a younger mind that girls don’t need this message spoon-feeding to them but I could be wrong.

All the way through this novel I thought my rating would be a 2 but I raised it to 3 partly because I’m not the target audience and partly because, despite its flaws, it was a quick read for me and it tied itself up quite nicely in the end.

Goodreads Rating – 3 / 5

 

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No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

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Published August 2019 by Macmillan

Synopsis

‘It’s not my body that’s holding me back. I think it’s more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.’

Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

Review

I was sent an e-arc of this book via Netgalley and the Publisher.

I loved this book. It was such a sweet and easy read for me and I definitely connected on a deep level with the main character, Emily who is struggling with how she thinks she is perceived by others because of her weight. Emily is a gem, she is confident and outspoken but inside she is dealing with the overbearing nature of her mother who is struggling with her own weight and the constant worry of teenagers – comparing herself to others, measuring success on her friends relationship milestones and focusing on the only thing she can see as being the difference between herself and them – her body size.

I wish I had read this as a teenager. By the novels conclusion, Emily has realised that she can’t compare herself to others and that she doesn’t need to accept anything less than the best, because no matter what she looks like it doesn’t change who she is as a person. It’s a cheesy and well-worn message but to have it put so plainly in this Young Adult novel really made me feel good and root for Emily as a character.

This novel also attempts to tackle the social issue of fad dieting in the form of Emily’s mum who is constantly trying to lose weight but struggling to do so. She seems to be impeded by her daughter’s self-confidence which from a mother is so completely the opposite of what I grew up with I did struggle to ‘believe’ her attitude although I totally understood the mental health side of things behind these actions. I think this was the only detraction for me and it didn’t impede my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Goodreads rating: 4/5 Stars

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Audiobook Review – The Foundling by Stacey Halls

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Published by Bonnier Books (UK)

Synopsis

London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.


Review

Last week I took part in a listenalong of The Foundling which was organised by Tandem Collective UK (see Instagram for links etc). I sourced my own copy of the novel (Thanks, Audible) and Tandem sent me several prompts which told me when to pause the playback and gave me a question or two to answer which I then posted to my Instagram stories.

Now, although I have had Audible for around a year, I have to confess I don’t finish a lot of audiobooks, they take me A LONG TIME so I have an excess of books to listen to right now on there. I religiously listen to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter most nights; I put the timer on for 10-15 minutes and usually hear 2-3 minutes before I’m asleep which means I’m always rewinding and in all honesty, I started with The Philosopher’s Stone last July and I am currently halfway through The Order of the Phoenix (that’s how long it’s taking).

So when Tandem advertised doing this readalong I didn’t have the highest of hopes of finishing the book but I also really wanted to read this book after I read the first two chapters a few months ago. I haven’t read The Familiars but I have it and I had heard really good things about it, so I signed up for this one.

And I am so glad I did! I couldn’t stop listening to it. On day one I listened to 4 hours straight while I did some crafts I’ve been putting off which I loved. I felt so much better afterwards, I had achieved something on a weekend (what is a weekend right now?). Now, more than ever I know it’s super important to separate work and play since I’m doing everything in one room so to be able to switch off and actually push myself to start something was a big step and listening to this really was a godsend.

I know that this could have happened with any audiobook. Why was this audiobook important? Well to start with, the narrators are fantastic; I honestly cannot say this enough. The book is told from the point of view of two very different women and the ladies recording their voices were spot on. I couldn’t have felt more involved in the novel if I tried, I felt like the characters were talking to me (I know that’s the point). In other audiobooks I’ve tried, I often find the narrator distracting and quite distanced. I mean, it’s an audiobook –the narrator is key!

In terms of storyline, it moved at a reasonable pace but I have to say I do think I feel this way purely because of the narrators. If I was reading this as a physical novel I’m not sure I would have rated it so highly. The characters are intriguing and considering I’m not usually a fan of Historical Fiction I did want to find out how the novel would be concluded but there isn’t a great deal of dialogue. The narrative is heavily made up of the women’s thoughts and feelings and not conversations which again, is probably why this worked so well as an audiobook.

I would definitely recommend this novel, in physical and audio format. The conclusion was satisfying but not necessarily exciting, if I had to sum it up I would say it was ‘tidy’. There were some interesting themes running throughout, relationships and mental health played a huge part in how the women had experienced life which led to the choices they had made and how their chapters were communicated. I did feel a connection with them, I did understand why they felt the way they did and why they did what they did. The novel makes you play devil’s advocate; putting you in the middle so it’s hard to take sides which was really interesting. I didn’t have a favourite necessarily, I think I would have been happy with any outcome in this book.

So, thanks Tandem for helping me fall a little in love with audiobooks, I think my Audible membership might be getting a little bit more use from now on.

Goodreads: 4/5 Stars

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Mini Review – Death in Vermilion – Barbara Elle

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Independently Published 2018

Hi Guys!

I’m so pleased to be included in the Love Books Tours blog tour for Death in Vermilion by Barbara Elle! I was kindly gifted a copy of the novel to read and review for this stop on the tour.

Synopsis

A psychological thriller about murder among friends and enemies. Who do you trust?

Artist Leila Goodfriend is laying down the bones of a painting. When she’s interrupted by Iris, the noisy, unlikeable artist in the studio upstairs, Leila is distracted and annoyed.

When Leila discovers the racket was actually Iris’ dead body hitting the floor, she becomes obsessed: Who murdered Iris?

The other Red Barn Cooperative artists—competitive, jealous and hypocritical—are prime suspects. They all hated Iris. “An artist owes his life to his art,” Iris said.

Iris was good for a laugh. But no one is laughing now.

In this gripping mystery, new author Barbara Elle paints a clever, twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a charming Cape Code town.

Alibis fall apart. Plot twists multiply. And Leila comes to a dangerous conclusion.

 

Mini Review

Okay, can you see why I signed up for this tour? How juicy is that plot?

Well I can confirm it is very juicy indeed. Disclaimer – I have not yet finished my read of this book! My kindle tells me I’m at 62% which is a really random number. I should have this baby finished tonight but to be honest, I kind of wanted to write a review so far since all of my reviews are written knowing the ending and, as with everything, once you know the ending sometimes it can mar your experience of the whole thing.

So before I go away and finish this book I wanted to let you guys know how it was going.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this so far. The narrative jumped straight in, gave a simple yet satisfying overview of the layout and in we went. Before I knew it I was up to my eyeballs in death and mystery. I’m literally dying to know where it’s going (will I ever find out about Fred?). I want my answers, like, yesterday. The characters all have their own agendas and they keep drawing me in their favour on one page and shocking me on the next which I am loving to be honest, it is definitely keeping me on my toes and there is a great undertone of comedy which really helps to move the story along and get you liking those characters 🙂

This is Barbara Elle’s debut novel and her love of storytelling really shines through the language she uses. She is very descriptive but not overly so, you don’t drown in adjectives or anything! She has obviously done a decent amount of research into art and artistic terms which really helps you to get inside Leila’s head at times. I haven’t felt like I’m lost in the plot at all. So I would say if you like murder mystery novels with a bit of humour and interesting characters, definitely give this one a go! You can even read it on Kindle Unlimited in the UK right now (or buy it on Kindle – it’s not expensive) and it’s less than 300 pages so really, what are you waiting for?

When I have finished the book I may edit this post to include my final thoughts 🙂 But for now I’m going to focus on my actual enjoyment of the novel as I’m reading it.

Goodreads Link

 

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Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

Lord_of_Shadows_book_cover

(Published by Margaret K. McElderry – 2017)

Synopsis:

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

 

Review:

*Disclaimer – this was written last year after I had read the book but previously has not been published*

Oh my Lord (of Shadows) I had to wait to write down my thoughts on this one, it was intense!

Following on from Lady Midnight and leading on to Queen of Air & Darkness which will complete The Dark Artifices Trilogy, Lord of Shadows is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill middle novel; oh no. Lord of Shadows is fast-paced and filled with the adventure, sword fights and relationship woes that we have come to expect from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels. You almost forget how big it is. Almost.

I’ve read on another review that it would be handy to have read The Infernal Devices trilogy which I have not yet done (I read the first one and didn’t get the buzz so I did not continue that particular branch of the Shadowhunter tree) before reading The Dark Artifices however I haven’t had any issues, some references have probably just passed me by. I am now prepared for The Infernal Devices and will be giving them another go, I promise J

So, before I move on too much I am aware I haven’t reviewed Lady Midnight so in brief: I loved it. It’s a huge book but it has such endearing characters and a fast plot that I read it pretty quickly for me even though I couldn’t carry the great tome around in my bag for fear of causing long-lasting back issues. The same happened with Lord of Shadows, once I started I wanted to devour the whole thing in one go and drool my way to the library to pick up Queen of Air & Darkness (which isn’t in stock yet so I have to wait *sigh*).

Lord of Shadows is a seamless transition from book one to book two and I was definitely still in the zone when I got around to reading it. The narrative moves quickly and although you might not be into the teenage love story drama undertones there is plenty more to keep you going in my opinion. The severe detail in this world astounds me, Cassandra Clare must live, sleep and breathe these plotlines she has thought of everything and she’s releasing multiple books this year too, what a machine!

Reading Lord of Shadows was definitely an immersive experience to say the least, nothing is glossed over; every character is developed with fears and agendas of their own. While there are several ‘main’ characters the plot revolves around Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn who I do enjoy reading about and I am looking forward to seeing where their story goes but I definitely prefer the chapters surrounding Mark, Christina and Kit. Just personal preference I think – luckily they get a decent amount of page time and hopefully their stories will be completed in the last novel as I am filled with intrigue about them and their connections in the Shadowhunter World.

In terms of plot development, Lord of Shadows moves the story on nicely without making a pointless new storyline to keep us going as you often find with trilogies. The characters are continually developed and overall it is a genuinely enjoyable read. I will say however that the end of this book felt slightly rushed, as if Clare was so excited to give you her big finish that she just couldn’t hold it in any longer and you instinctively read faster as you reach that crescendo. Luckily, I haven’t had long to wait for the release of the third novel but I imagine for those that did, it was quite a painful struggle to be patient.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

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Blog Tour – The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel

Published by Rock The Boat Publications (UK – February 2020)

Ahh Good Morning Lovelies!
Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel! This is my first time doing one of these events so be kind and I hope I give this book the justice it deserves.
I was sent this ridiculously bright book by Rock the Boat Publications as part of this blog tour and to be honest, I loved this book from the moment I took it out of the envelope! The yellow is so bright and optimistic, it kept drawing my gaze before I picked it up as if it was determined not to be ignored, which considering its content, is (and I quote) fucking perfect.
For each stop on this blog tour, Amy has chosen a song to accompany our reviews and the song for today is Ordinary People by John Legend. This is such a beautiful song, I’m really pleased to listen to it and share Amy’s thoughts on it:

I love a love song, how they can so perfectly capture the blind-sided euphoria of the beginnings of something. The flutterings of instant attraction. The will-they-won’t-they of unrequited lust. And then there’s the break-up ballads of the I’ll-never-love-again. The heart-broken, barely breathing devastation of loss. Like many love stories, love songs are usually at one end of the relationship or the other. And yet Ordinary People is extraordinary for its depiction of middling love, which can be fraught with the passions and frustrations of both the beginning and the end, weirdly existing alongside the mundanity of day-to-day coupledom. And that’s why I’d have it on the island. Because while separation can allow us to glorify romantic love, Ordinary People would be a reminder of its hardships, of its need for effort and compromise over its need for fast-beating hearts and thrills. It’s love with longevity. It’s real. ~ Amy Beashel.

If you would like to listen to the songs on Amy’s playlist, you can find the playlist on Spotify here.

From the Back Cover:
Izzy feels invisible. Trapped under the weight of expectation and censored by shame.

Her mum Steph and best friend Grace have always been there to save her. But with one under the control of her stepfather and the other caught in the throes of new love, Izzy is falling between the cracks.

As threats to her safety grow, Izzy wants to scream. But first she must find her voice.

And if the sky is the limit, then the sky is hers.

Review:

This book comes with some wonderful endorsements on the cover and I have to agree with all of them. As a debut novel, Amy tackles a really sensitive subject which has a lot of relevance in today’s society and I think she does it with a great deal of poise and realism.

Izzy is our protagonist, she’s a teenager who finds herself in a difficult and hurtful situation. I’m not going to go into details and I think the book itself doesn’t discuss the situation in a lot of depth instead briefly touching on the events enough for you to invest in the characters situations and understand their actions. The trigger warning on the email from the publisher says The Sky is Mine contains material some readers may find distressing, including discussions of rape, coercive behaviour, domestic violence and abuse. We are grateful to sexual health and wellbeing charity Brook for undertaking a sensitivity read. So I did have some pre-warning.

Izzy lives with her mum, Steph and her (evil) stepfather Daniel. I’m not kidding about the evil bit either. Daniel is a manipulative bully and reading about his actions and the things he said made me physically angry while I was reading the book. His constant comments about weight and their bodies really got to me. I was emotionally invested not only in Izzy, but in Steph too as they both battle through really damaging situations. Izzy not only feels the distance between her and Steph but also between her and Grace, her best friend who is besotted with her new girlfriend which I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to.

There are a lot of relationships explored in The Sky is Mine and I found them refreshing. I didn’t once think any of the interactions were overdone or clichéd. Nothing was made more complicated than it needed to be and I didn’t think anything was dragged out or made into a spectacle which was fantastic. The narrative explores itself through Izzy’s love of music and how music speaks to everyone differently but triggers empathy in its listeners on a personal level. Ultimately, the music speaks to people and gets it’s voice heard which is what Izzy needs to accomplish to free herself and i think is why she adores it so much.
The coercion and manipulative culture displayed in the novel made me feel sick, not only the words but the feeling behind it. In today’s society you see displays of this behaviour in public and online nearly on a daily basis. Online bullying, through photos is a very real problem and I can only hope that this novel being in the world will aid anyone who has experienced these things and maybe bring a change into accepted attitudes and behaviours.

I think all young people should read this book. Beashel has found a voice for so many sufferers of emotional, physical and sexual abuse because ultimately at the heart of this novel is the voice of not just Izzy and Steph but of Grace and of Harry too. Everyone has a voice and everyone deserves to be heard and feel comfortable saying no in a society that encourages people to say yes to every opportunity and experience as much as possible as soon as possible. Please read this novel and pass it to your friends to read so that it can spread it’s message as far as possible because we will not be silenced.

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Thanks for reading,

Cat x