Mistletoe and Mayhem by Catherine Ferguson

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Last year I treated my Kindle to several festive reads to help get me in the Christmas spirit and one of those reads was Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson. I really enjoyed reading it and so was delighted to hear that this year there was another festive book out by her too; Mistletoe and Mayhem. Sometimes, when you enjoy one book by a particular author then move on to the next it can be a let down but after having devoured this book in just two days I can firmly say that this was no disappointment.

The story tells of Lola who’s boyfriend Nathan is a fitness fanatic. He’s trying to encourage her to be the same by indulging her with smoothies with bizarre ingredients, dragging her on various challenges and pushing her exercise regime further but then during a rather amusing exchange Nathan breaks up with her, declaring she was just his project for him to work on and was now moving on to someone else. Lola was upset enough as she had just lost her job but even more upsetting, the whole exchange was heard over the tanoy of the supermarket where Nathan worked meaning that everyone heard… including a man nearby her who seems very amused by the whole spectacle…

As Lola is feeling truly miserable she finds herself talking to her Dad who unburdens himself on her, her mother is worrying about Christmas, her brother and sister in law are too overpowering for her and they just don’t know what to do about Christmas this year and before Lola realises it she has invited them all to spend Christmas with her but there’s a slight problem; she lives in a tiny flat, has no money and has no idea how she can make Christmas live up to the expectations of Justine- her sister in law.

Throughout this story there are lots of themes running through it. It’s easy to just think it’s an amusing light-hearted Christmas book but there is more to it than that with various issues being raised but it does all finish with a nice heart-warming ending which is just what you want from a festive read!

One of the difficult subjects in the book is that of the loss of a child and how that affects every family member in different ways. Although this is a light hearted read it doesn’t make this subject be downplayed and brushed over, instead it is really carefully crafted seeing that people react differently to loss and how much harder it is to deal with the grief if everyone tries to ignore it and refuse to talk about it. It also shows that at times of year like Christmas, these losses are so much more prominent which is something that I myself can relate to; it can seem like you have to have the most perfect Christmas just like everyone else but that there’s this sadness behind it all but you try to muddle through despite it. This area of the book did cause a few tears on my part- a sign of a well written book I believe.

As well as tears I also had great frustration! Lola’s mother was very frustrating with her lack of taking any responsibility for herself. After having a breakdown when Lola was 10, her mother never left the house without her husband and spent most of her time in bed. She was always making up excuses and gave in to her panic attacks. She refused help, claimed she didn’t need to see a psychotherapist or a counsellor and was resigned to a very limited life relying soley on her husband to be effectively her carer. Throughout the book I got frustrated with her, wanting her to just take action and realise her life could improve if she just faced that she needed help and as the book went on this frustration grew- which is a good thing, it made the feelings of those around her easier to relate to. Her husband feeling completely at the end of his tether with the situation, her daughter trying to be sympathetic but very carefully trying to encourage her to get help and the daughter in law who had absolutely no patience for her at all.

There were lots of amusing moments in this book, Lola did engage in some rather bizarre activities trying to keep Christmas on the cheap- scouring around in a skip to try to source Christmas decorations, stock piling items from the marked down section at the super market, making handmade decorations with her flat mate Barb whilst under the influence of alcohol… Then there were the boys upstairs in the flat above them Jas and Seb. Jas was very forgetful and kept leaving things around and tried to encourage the girls to join his choir for the Christmas season and before she knew it Lola found herself attending choir practice just with one big flaw- she couldn’t actually sing and Seb, Jas’s flat mate, knew this after overhearing her one day which resulted in her breaking a vase. There’s lots of humour and feel good within this book especially with the friendships between Lola, Barb, Jas and Seb and that was really heart-warming and made me miss the days of living with friends!

I think to be able to craft characters that make you feel emotions towards them is the sign of a very clever author. I felt frustration, sadness, embarrassment, happiness… which is way more than some people expect when they think a book is just going to be all about Christmas. It’s more than that in this case.

What I liked about this book is that it did have a lovely happily ever after ending which is just what I like from a festive read but it also left me thinking about some things. Like the effort some of us go to to have the most perfect Christmas thinking it has to be ‘done’ in a certain way when really that isn’t that important- who cares if you order a pizza instead of creating a banquet on the days leading up to the big day? And it makes you think about all the things going on in peoples’ lives, you may think they’re miserable and aloof or stroppy and be quick to judge them when there could be a perfectly good reason behind their behaviour. Talking about the difficulties and problems in your life is very important!

When I finished this book I felt all festive and my heart was warmed because, despite all the ups and downs within a family and friendships, people work through it all and come together to help and support each other.

I really enjoyed reading this, it was very funny with some brilliantly crafted characters but also emotional too. I am so glad that this second festive read by this author was just as brilliant as the first one. Five stars from me!

I Don’t Want to Talk About it by Jane Lovering

I began this book three days ago and had to review it right away as soon as I finished it. This book tackles a very difficult subject area and does so in a way that isn’t too difficult to read as you may expect as there’s plenty of light hearted humour thrown in which lifts the book beautifully whilst still being sensitive towards the subject matter.

=== The story ===
Winter has written a book based around people who have died and what the stories behind their gravestones are and it’s been a huge hit. She has rented a little tiny house in a remote Yorkshire village to begin work on her second novel it all seems quite normal until it seems that she has moved up to Yorkshire to escape from things back home in London, namely Dan, her editor but also her ex boyfriend.

Whilst studying a gravestone in the local cemetery a little girl appears and begins talking to Winter. It is as though she has no boundaries and can’t stop talking and Winter finds herself talking to this overly friendly little girl (Scarlet) and her hobby horse (Lightbulb). The attachment that Scarlet has to this toy amuses Winter and she is introduced to Scarlet’s uncle Alex who is her guardian.

As Winter gets to know Scarlet and Alex and attempting to write her second book, she turns to her twin sister Daisy at all times. Being a twin means that Winter can rely on Daisy no matter what even if she is in Australia but as Winter and Daisy talk it’s obvious that something happened between Winter and Dan which made the relationship she has with Daisy strained…

And then Dan turns up in the village, supposedly to check up on how her book is going but it seems like he still has an opinion on Daisy too and Winter just doesn’t want to hear it.

=== Opinion ===
When reading this book I really enjoyed it. I found it easy enough to read with no complicated stories to follow so it was perfect for relaxing and losing myself after a busy day. It was all told from Winter’s perspective but we got to hear the thoughts of Alex and Dan too as they shared their emails or blog posts which I thought was a really novel way of doing so. When reading Dan’s posts it made me wonder what had happened between him and Winter and what his problem with Daisy was and I did begin to wonder if Winter was telling the truth when she told Alex about what had happened between them.

The main theme in this book is one of dealing with losing a loved one and this is such a difficult subject area to write about and also read about but it didn’t feel like a terribly sad book but more of a positive one about moving on and learning to deal with how losing someone will change you and how you have to face it. There is plenty of humour especially surrounding the very amusing Lightbulb the hobby horse and the tiny house in which Winter is staying. This really helped to keep the story from being too much about grief and it worked really well.

When I finished reading this book it left me feeling happy, that things had worked out one way or another even if they weren’t perfect and I suppose that that reflects life in general.

I really enjoyed reading this, 5 stars from me and I’ll definitely be reading more from Jane Lovering in the future.

Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey.

I don’t know where to start with writing this review which is unusual for me but this book was really beautifully written and told such a special story that whatever I write about it will not do it justice. I was recommended this book and I’m so glad I listened to the recommendation as this is one of those novels that has really touched me and I’m sure this is the case for everyone who’s read it.

=== The story ===
This is the story of Stella and Dan who fell in love during the second world war and also the story of Jess and Will who are trying to find out what happened to Stella and Dan some seventy years on in 2011. There is nothing straight forward about how Stella and Dan came to falling in love and where their story ended up.

Jess is running away from her boyfriend who is abusive and controlling and she happens to find an empty house which she breaks into in order to hide. She only meant to take cover whilst her boyfriend was chasing her but then she ends up staying in the house longer than she intended and whilst she is there she reads a letter. The letter is from a dying man in America who is desperately trying to trace Stella, the letter confesses his love for her and Jess is moved by it and decides the least she can do after breaking into the house is to help the American to find Stella. She looks around the house for clues and comes across a box of letters. They are love letters, sent from the American and through reading them Jess is able to piece together part of their story.

Stella was married to Charles, a vicar of her local parish and she is supposed to be a ‘vicar’s wife’ and perform lots of duties within the community to help them appear like the perfect couple but their marriage isn’t a happy one. Stella is afraid to voice her concerns to anyone but she knows it isn’t right that her husband looks as though he can’t stand her, that he has no patience for her questions and that there is zero passion in their relationship at all. Then one day she meets Dan, an American soldier who slowly but surely steals her heart. Their relationship develops slowly and as Stella falls in love she realises that there is so much more to life and to herself. She becomes less timid and begins to stand up for herself.

As Jess reads the letters sent from Dan to his sweetheart she wonders what became of them and why they didn’t get their happy ever after but how will she be able to trace them and find out?

=== Characters ===
The characters within this story are absolutely beautifully created in a way which will have you feel as though you know them. I loved the way that parallels were drawn between Jess and Stella with them both being quite fragile people with difficult backgrounds.

When reading this book, the lives of the characters unfolded slowly in a way which really drew me in and enabled me to get to know the characters well. Stella was fragile but she really flourished when she met Dan and it made me really get behind her and want her to have her happy ending with him but I could completely understand the dilemma she was in with being married to a man of the community and the way she was developed really made me feel her anguish too. I loved how Dan was such a thoughtful, caring person who was tender and a real gentleman, it was impossible to not be on his side and wishing he could get the girl!

I think there’s something really special about a book which enables you to really get inside the heads of the main characters and this book definitely has that. So much so that at one point I was really feeling Stella’s frustrations with Charles, he really wound me up!

=== Opinion ===
This is a really special book and I devoured it in 5 days. Throughout the book it made me think about a lot of things- the hardships of war and how far we have come, the difficulties in relationships, how even when things don’t go your way you can still carry on and do something good with your life…

This book is told between the two time periods and this helped to break up the book in a really good way. The story of Stella and Dan was really heart wrenching and so having the story of Will and Jess emerging in the present day was a good way to break up that and give something a bit more positive. It was also interesting to picture what Will and Jess were learning from the letters and seeing how it fitted in with what was happening. Sometimes books that flip from one time to another can be confusing but this one wasn’t, it was very clear which time period I was reading and it worked really well. It wouldn’t have been half the book it is if it wasn’t written like this.

I like that, although this book is set in WW2, it isn’t just about the war and in fact it shows how life went on in villages whilst the war was on. It was definitely more of a love story rather than being about war but with lots of interesting facts in too such as the life expectancy of the role that Dan had. It really did make me think about what it must have been like during that time.

Throughout reading this book I was moved a lot and really hoping for a happy ending for everyone. I won’t spoil the ending but it wasn’t a disappointment, sometimes books can be rushed and I often really dislike the way it ends but this one was really special and finishes in quite a comforting way.

I am extremely pleased that I read this book, it certainly is very special. I will be recommending it to everyone and I’m going to miss it now I’ve finished it! A big five out of five from me xx

Thanks for reading, you can follow me on Twitter : @Sparkle2017 x

Living with a malfunctioning brain.

Imagine this.

You’re out shopping and you have your children with you who are both demanding you buy them a magazine. Whilst you’re trying to shush them you’re also trying to remember what it was that you went into the shop for and also trying to work out what to make for tea. Eventually you give in to your children’s demands and go to find the magazine aisle. As you get there you take a magazine off the shelf and as you do so you freeze and are filled with horror. The hand that you’ve just taken the magazine off the shelf with doesn’t look like yours. It looks bigger, it feels clumsy.

Suddenly you’re aware that there’s things missing. The magazine’s title isn’t written properly. Your children’s faces are distorted. The floor of the supermarket has a space.

Within seconds your mouth is numb, one of your arms has lost all the feeling in it, you try to tell your children to stop talking but they look at you in a strange way. The words sound distant to you but normal… but they’re not. You’re using all the wrong words and talking gibberish.

In less than three minutes since that hand appeared that didn’t look like your own, you have a splitting pain in your head which makes you feel sick. The pain doesn’t go away but what can you do? You can’t get to your car because you can’t see where you’re going. You can’t ask someone for help because your ability to speak has gone.

This is what it’s like to have a brain that just doesn’t behave.

This is what it’s like for me.

I am very lucky because these attacks don’t happen all the time but I’m very unlucky because I don’t know when they will happen. The longest I’ve gone without one has been 16 months, the shortest has been 3 weeks.

Living with a brain that can suddenly stop you functioning is definitely not fun or easy. My life has had to change a lot in order for us to have a sense of normality. We have things in place for if it happens. I know now that as soon as I get the first sign that things aren’t right (usually it will be a gap in my vision or my hand looking odd) I know to ring my husband or my Mum and tell them where I am and what I need them to do. It is then up to them to negotiate what happens next. I am also lucky that 99% of the time they seem to happen in the evenings so I’m usually at home where I’m safe and sound anyway.

It’s happened twice whilst I’ve been out and I’ve been able to get to my car, provide the children with crisps to keep them quiet and just sit and wait for my husband to come and pick us up and take us home.

So we have ways to cope with what could happen which means I can still do the school run, I can still go shopping, have friends round, do normal every day things but it does also mean I live in my own little bubble. I don’t like to go too far, I won’t venture out for the day just me and the kids, we will do the local soft plays and we will go to friends houses but we won’t go further than that.

I do live in a constant fear that it will happen and I have been trying very hard over the last two years to stop symptom checking and living with paranoia. I have freed myself from a lot of the anxiety by being happy living in the safety of my bubble and making the most of weekends when my husband’s here so I can do more. I have mad big progress- a two hour train journey on my own to visit my best friend happened last month and I was fine and didn’t panic once.

There are times when I don’t feel confident enough to do something, usually the weeks just after I’ve had a bad head I’ll not do very much. Some friends probably hate me turning down offers of days out and preferring to just have a play date with a brew and some cake instead but that is ‘safer’.

I miss work. I would love to go back to it one day but the fear of it happening whilst in the workplace again is just something too big to face yet and I’m glad I have set up a business that I can do from home but I do really miss what I used to do. Maybe one day I’ll get a publication in a journal again… who knows.

I hate having a crappy brain which restricts me but I really do make the most of when it’s behaving.

You can follow me on Twitter @sparkle2017

Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood

I have just finished reading this book on my Kindle and although it is not a completely stunning piece of literature it is a very good book with a funny story with a moral behind it and I am giving it 5 stars.  This is a book which I enjoyed reading and actually looked forward to having the quiet time during the day to read more. It did make me want to read more and turn pages and I think about the message behind this story quite a bit which I think is always the sign of a good book.

The story

This is a story about Natalie Butterworth who is a little overweight and has found someone who will marry her! She is getting married in a bit of a rush, Olly, her husband to be, wants to get married as soon as possible and so with just a few weeks to plan the big day Natalie is finding herself being swept away in it all. Her mother and her sister Dionne seem to be taking it upon themselves to be her wedding planner for her and make all the big decisions on her behalf. She hates the dress that she tries on, it’s too ‘blingy’ but her mum has already bought it and becomes tearful when Natalie tries to explain she doesn’t like it so she decides just shrug and make do, what can you do anyway when you’re planning a wedding in a rush? You should just be grateful people are helping you… she doesn’t quite like the idea of having the wedding cake shaped like a sleeping swan either… in fact all of the plans that are being made are not what she wants but she can’t break it to her family, she decides to just put up with it and focus on the fact that she is marrying the love of her life.Olly is the love of her life. He is a steady choice, he’s sensible, he likes healthy food… he always cooks really healthy food for her, does it matter that it doesn’t taste of anything? He is only caring for her hoping that she will lose some weight… she just chooses to not tell him that she is obsessed with Hobbs bread and will eat two big buttered slices in the morning when he isn’t around.

Then one evening Natalie agrees to go with her friend to a psychic evening. Her friend gets up on stage to by hypnotised by The Amazing Brian, AB doesn’t seem too amazing though, he doesn’t seem to be able to hypnotise anyone so they leave the pub and laugh about how hopeless he is. But then the next morning Olly asks Natalie outright how he performed in bed and she blurts out the truth, that he needs more stamina. He is shocked, so is she, where did that come from?! Over the course of the morning Natalie realises that she cannot lie, she suddenly has to speak the truth about everything if she is asked a question and sometimes she isn’t even aware that that is how she felt! Olly is upset with her openness and she upsets her boss at work too and is asked to leave. It dawns upon her that Amazing Brian must have hypnotised her.

So Natalie and her friend go off in search of the Amazing Brian who lives in a little village in North Yorkshire. When they arrive though his cottage is empty and the locals don’t know anything about him but are more than willing to help in the search for this resident and so begins an interesting adventure in this rather bizarre little village with a bar man Riley who Natalie informs everyone that she wants to have sex with, a Hobb’s factory which is trying to take over the pub which Riley owns but has their own secret which Natalie manages to find out by mistake and what will happen with Olly back home who thinks that Natalie is depressed, not hypnotised?!

Characters

The characters in this book are really well written. We don’t know all of their backgrounds and life history but what we do know of them is how they react to situations, what their opinions are on things and what they are like personality wise. I think the way the book is written in a way which really helps you to see things from the main character’s perspective. I felt an instant irritation with Natalie’s mother and sister for being so dominating but could also relate to how Natalie felt like she couldn’t upset them. I was confused as to whether Riley was a ‘goodie’ or not and I think that that was what was intended as Natalie too was confused. I thought although none of them were so well formed that I really felt like I knew them inside and out like I have with other books, they were formed enough to make it an enjoyable read.

Opinion

This book was really interesting and also amusing. The style of writing reminded a bit of Sophie Kinsella books which always have humour in them as well as a chick lit style. It was not all about a love story though, there was much more to it than that, difficult family relationships were touched upon, the ability to stand up for yourself and not be walked over was a big theme, feeling happy in your own skin as well as knowing what you want for yourself and listening to your head instead of just trying to please people to avoid arguments. It was really interesting to read it and consider the things that were happening. So many of us ignore how we feel just to please others and how many times has that resulted in a decision which has lead to all kinds of difficulties and regrets for us?

I liked how it was written in a laidback style, it had terms such as ‘stink eye’ in it and other phrases which an author wouldn’t normally use but because it was written by the main character’s perspective it tied in really well and helped to get into her head instead of as an outsider reading a story.

This was not a very complicated novel, we didn’t zoom back and forth to past and present but we did go back from Old Trooley to Manchester and it was really interesting to see the different relationships between people and how it all had an impact upon Natalie.

I think that this is the kind of book which is an ideal holiday read. Although it has quite an interesting moral behind it which you can use to question yourself, it was very easy to read with lots of amusing parts to it too. I could really see myself reading this on the beach, a proper holiday read that’s for sure. It was very easy to follow the story, you weren’t left confused or trying to understand what was going on, there was no long paragraphs with complex terminology with them. This is the perfect book for escapism and to enjoy.

I haven’t read anything from this author before, I had chosen it because Amazon recommended it to me I think because I had searched for Sophie Kinsella and they said she is like her and I agree. I will read more of her work that’s for sure. There were a few errors in the Kindle version but not many, just the odd punctuation mistake and a few spelling mistakes but no where near as many as the previous book I have read.

I recommend this book, don’t be expecting a brilliant piece of literature but do expect an interesting story which will make you want to turn pages.

Love You Better by Natalie Martin

I read a review about this book a couple of days ago and downloaded it right away as it sounded just like the style of books I like to read. I have read it within a matter of days as it really drew me in.

=== The story ===
The story begins at Effie and Oliver’s wedding day. It all looks like your usual wedding, everyone having a good time, a few family awkwardness but a big celebration nonetheless but then whilst Effie goes outside to get some air she sees Smith turn up. Smith was her boyfriend who broke her heart then disappeared to go travelling. Seeing him at her wedding unsettles her and she asks him to leave. But it appears that Smith keeps appearing, he gets a job at the same place of work as Effie and settles back into the friendships he had with her good friends. Whenever Effie plans to do something with her friends Smith is there too and stirs up feelings she thought she no longer had.

But Effie has it all hasn’t she now that she is married? She has a beautiful house thanks to her new husband coming from a very successful family and being a successful barrister himself. Her house is perfect, she’s bought lavish gifts for her birthday and taken to expensive restaurants with month-long waiting lists. Effie grew up without stability as her mother was a ‘free spirit’ and kept moving and refusing to adhere to conventional ways and so this lifestyle is perfect for Effie who has always wanted to feel grounded.

Oliver is loving and adoring and gives her everything but Effie begins to feel controlled by him. He doesn’t like her friends, he asks her to wear different clothes and he keeps pressuring her to start a family. Effie wonders why she feels so uncomfortable at the idea and finds herself questioning her relationship with both Oliver and Smith.

=== Characters ===
I really liked the way the characters were created in this novel. I could see that Effie was quite vulnerable and relied a lot upon her friends so when Oliver tried to stop her from seeing them I could relate to how she was feeling. She had a strength inside which saw her through the difficult times and I think she was really well created, you got to feel like you knew her and how she would react.

As for Oliver I wasn’t sure about him at first and then when he started to show his true colours I felt a bit more confused- was he really sorry when he apologised to her? Was he really taking a course to try to stop his anger issues? But this isn’t a criticism, it is another compliment to the book. Feeling confused and unsure whether to trust him was just what this book needed, it was most likely how Effie was feeling too and made me on edge reading wondering what he would do next. It made me really dislike him and be frustrated with him which I think is a sign of a clever author!

Smith was brilliant. He was really well described in both his appearance and his personality and he was really consistent. I could see why Effie would be wary of him given that he wasn’t as ‘perfect on paper’ as Oliver but how his consistency and kindness won over. I really thought that these main characters were well developed.

=== Opinion ===
I really liked this book. It wasn’t just about domestic violence and being controlled at all and I really liked that Effie didn’t just forgive Oliver straight away and take him back. I was almost groaning inside when he was begging forgiveness and I thought she would just relent but she didn’t, she stuck to her decision and that was really refreshing. This story tells you a lot about other issues too- that sometimes people make mistakes but they can be forgiven and it’s how they treat you in the present that you should focus on (in relation to both Smith and Effie’s mother). I liked that it emphasised the fact that you may look like you have it all but in reality there can be an awful lot missing such as friendships, happiness, freedom etc. It does make you think about what you take for granted.

I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more from this author. 🙂

My top 5 reads of the year… so far!

This year has seen me reading a lot of books, way more than any other year  and I’ve been really enjoying reading a whole host of different books. Previously, I would have just stuck to the same few authors or only big titles that I’d heard of. This year, however, i’ve varied what I’ve read a lot more and have found some fantastically written novels in having done so.

It’s been hard trying to choose what my favourites have been but here are my top 5 of the books I’ve read in 2015 so far.

5. Wild.

wild

Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed who is rather lost in the world after the death of her mother and not feeling connected to anyone else around her. She decides to embark on a journey. Hiking the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) which is a trail which spans a large amount of America on terrain which is natural… so no easy, smooth, well trodden paths here! Cheryl has little experience of hiking but sets out on a solo mission. It is tough. Her backpack is so heavy she can barely stand, her boots are so uncomfortable she loses her toe nails and she worries about whether her water will last her to the next refill point.

During her journey Cheryl sometimes meets other hikers who marvel at her hiking the trail alone. Often they will help her and keep her company for a while but ultimately Cheryl wants to do this alone. Over the course of the journey Cheryl learns a lot about herself and her spirit. With so much time spent on her own she is able to get lots of her thoughts clearer in her head.

It is a fantastic read that has you really interested as you see Cheryl develop. It’s all about testing yourself as a person and putting yourself through something that is a real challenge and then coming out of it stronger. It’s brilliantly written and I really liked it because it inspired me to think of things that I could do to challenge myself- perhaps not as dramatic as hiking a PCT but something akin to that. A very inspiring read.

4. How To Be Bravehow toa

How To Be Brave is a debut novel and one which leaves you wanting to read more from the author Louise Beech in the future. In this story we learn about the lives of two very different generations. Natalie is struggling to cope with the diagnosis of her daughter Rose’s diabetes. As they try to adjust to the new life that this illness has given them they take strength from the story of Colin, Rose’s great grandfather. Colin was lost at sea and survived by living on a small lifeboat or over a month. During his time on the lifeboat Colin had to really fight for his survival and had to endure some awful times- seeing his mates perish, struggling on barely any food, being attacked by a shark and so on. Through telling his story, Natalie and Rose find a way to cope and it brings them closer together at a time when they need it.

I loved the way this book was written. I was able to be drawn in to both the lives of Natalie and Rose and also that of Colin’s despite them being vastly different. The descriptions and morals that come with this story are very powerful and it is the kind of book that will stay with you. I know I will still be thinking about the messages in this book for a long time. custard

3. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts is set around World War 1. Nellie works in a custard factory and it is during a time when women are paid much less than men despite carrying out the same jobs. Nellie gets involved with the campaigning to get better pay and better rights in the factories for women. She is also trying to support her family with being the oldest of 4 siblings and not having a mother. Then when her father dies too she has to work harder by bringing in extra work for the evenings too. There are two men who try to steal her heart and they are both very different. One is a risk taker and gets her pulse racing whilst the other is reliable and there for her when she needs him.

Throughout this book we see Nellie go through some really tough times and have to go through things that I can’t even imagine. She holds it all together and battles on for her family which is really amazing.

Whilst reading this book it made me realise how lucky we are. That we moan about some things that are really not at all important when just a few generations ago our family members were worrying about just being able to have enough money to eat. This book really gets things into perspective and left me thinking about how lucky we are.

2. Gone Girlgone
It was hard to decide whether this is the number one book or number two as this really was a brilliant read! Gone Girl is a book which will have you unable to guess the ending and be totally gripped. Amy and Nick have been married for five years and on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary Amy goes missing. Nick is called in for questioning, there’s something about the circumstances in which she left that just don’t add up and why does Nick keep smirking on the television and finding himself telling lies to the police? Amy has left various clues around which lead the police to try to find where she is but it just raises more questions.

When reading this book you think it is going in a certain direction and then suddenly something else will happen which will change your view completely. It is fast paced and gripping. I really struggled to put it down and found myself really getting into the characters. They were so well formed that I absolutely despised one of them (will not say who, don’t want to give any spoilers!) but this character annoyed me so much I was desperate for them to get what they deserved!

This book is brilliant, both myself and my husband read it and spent a lot of time talking about it afterwards. Brilliantly written, highly recommended.i let

I let you Go.
Number one book of the year so far is definitely I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. I heard lots of great things about this book and was a bit apprehensive before I read it as didn’t want to be disappointed and… well I wasn’t!

As a mother is walking home from school it just takes a second for her child to let go of her hand and be knocked down by a car. The death of the child sends Jenna into a panic. She needs to leave the area, there are many memories and things lurking around so she gets on a bus and travels to South Wales. She keeps her head down and tries to set up a life for herself but hiring a little cottage and setting up a small business taking photos. Meanwhile the police are investigating the death of the child. There are few leads to go on and their lives are strained with the pressure put upon them with paperwork. We get a taste of what it must be like to juggle a demanding police investigation with trying to still be a family member too.

As the investigation unfolds there is a sudden turn around in the book. A ‘wow’ moment which makes the book suddenly go down a different path, one far different to what you thought was going to happen. We learn a lot about domestic violence and how belittling it can be. It is told from the point of view of the abuser which is really different to what we’ve read before and makes it even more real.

When reading this book I was drawn in from page one and really struggled to put it down. I often found myself reading this until late in the evenings and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. This book has been a very popular one this year by many and has gone into the WHSmith top 100 books of all time and I can completely see why! This is a debut novel too and I can’t wait to read Clare’s next book which will be published next year.

If you like a book that you simply can’t put down then this is definitely the book for you!

Thanks for reading!!