Wednesday 31 March 2021

Another Life by Jodie Chapman | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Another Life by Jodie Chapman - 5/5
"Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She's grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation - hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she's ever believed in, and everyone she's ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn't stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick's life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that's endured decades, and the promises they've made to others along the way."

My heart hurts. I need to stop reading books that make me cry real tears.

Another Life follows the life of Nick and is told in six parts. Each chapter is from a different time in his life. It isn't linear but is easy to follow along with.

We read about Nick and his childhood with brother Sal and his mum and dad, a summer he spends with Anna in 2003 and his life throughout the years up to 2020.

My heart was already almost broken at the very beginning, before we'd even been introduced to any character properly, and that is how I knew that I was reading a special book. I honestly feel like my words won't do this novel justice.

When Nick meets Anna at work in the summer of 2003, it is obvious that they have something special. It is a proper teenage first love but it can never develop into anything more. Nick is Anna's secret. Anna is devoted to her religion and knows she must marry within her religion. I absolutely loved reading about this. I am not a religious person as all, and to be honest I'd probably be like Nick and questioning it, so it was a really great insight for me. Her religion is never mentioned by name but I did think Jehovah's Witness which is confirmed in the author's note.

After losing touch, their lives continue, each getting into new relationships and getting older but they bump into each other quite a lot during the years. She is the one that got away but it could never be.

I don't want to give too much away because everyone just needs to read it. The development of each character is fantastic and you know them and their personalities inside out. 

Reading about Nick and Sal's mother's death completely broke my heart and how that affected them both, especially Sal, was devastating.

It is raw, it is hopeful, it is outstanding. You won't be able to put this book down.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce | Blog Tour Review #TheLiesYouTold

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce - 5/5
"Sadie loves her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe.

She can't tell her why they had to leave home so quickly - or why Robin's father won't be coming with them to London.

She can't tell her why she hates being back in her dead mother's house, with its ivy-covered walls and its poisonous memories.

And she can't tell her the truth about the school Robin's set to start at - a school that doesn't welcome newcomers.

Sadie just wants to get their lives back on track.

But even lies with the best intentions can have deadly consequences..."

This is a very strong follow up to Blood Orange.

Sadie and ten-year-old daughter Robin have moved from Brooklyn to London, to Sadie's childhood home, after her mother passes. It transpires that Sadie and her mother had a strained relationship, with Sadie's mother making her choose between her (and keeping her job as a criminal barrister) or having a family. Sadie chose having a family and the move to the USA came because of husband Andrew's job.

Sadie's mother has left her home to Sadie's daughter Robin, with the stipulation that she must move back to London, live in the house and attend Sadie's old school, the prestigious Ashams. Sadie hated it there so isn't happy with the thought but after husband Andrew has seemingly turned into a completely different person, demanding that she and Robin both leave, she feels like she has no choice.

There is so much going on in this book. It basically follows two stories, Robin starting at Ashams and Sadie's relationship with the "PTA school mum clique", where competitive parenting is rife, and Sadie dipping her toe back into work, helping on a case where a teacher in his mid-twenties has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage student. 

It is written so brilliantly with lots of little things piecing together. There are also chapters referring to the details on an ominous Sunday which suddenly makes sense when you reach Part Two. It is like a light bulb has switched on. 

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me guessing throughout and the ending was just perfect and shocking. 


A massive thank you to Rosie at Wildfire Books for having me on the blog tour. You can find out my fellow blog tour participants Twitter handles in the graphic below so keep an eye out for their reviews!


Saturday 27 March 2021

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes - 4/5
"Joe came to Los Angeles to start over, to forget about what happened in New York. But in a darkened room in Soho House everything suddenly changed.

She is like no one he's ever met before. She doesn't know about his past and never can. The problem is, hidden bodies don't always stay that way."

Oh it was good to be back in the mind of Joe Goldberg. 

Hidden Bodies is a follow up to 'You' so if you haven't read that one yet, you really should as there are a lot of references to things that Joe had done in that book.

At the beginning of Hidden Bodies we meet Amy when she applies for a job at Mooney's, the bookstore where Joe works in New York. She and Joe get into a relationship and Joe thinks this is it. All Joe wants is for someone to love him and make him the centre of their world. He thinks Amy is that person. Unfortunately, Amy had an ulterior motive. She's stolen thousands of dollars' worth of rare books and has gone to LA to try and become an actress. In true Joe style, he finds out where she is and moves to LA himself to try and track her down. He wants her to die.

He throws himself into the lifestyle, making friends and acquaintances all the while still searching for Amy. He happens upon Love and quickly realises that she is the one he's been waiting for. The novel follows their relationship and Joe's relationship with her family, including twin brother Forty.

Joe's past crimes are catching up with him and life isn't all fine and dandy here either. Joe's body count is rising, of course.

It is quite a slow book at the beginning but you get that build up where you just don't know what is going to happen. I love the way that Kepnes writes. Joe is a person you love to hate and it feels like you completely embody him when reading. You are Joe and that archetype does not stray. 

The ending has made me very excited to see where the next book goes.

Friday 26 March 2021

The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas - 4/5
"Anna’s world was shattered three years ago when her husband Spencer was killed in a tragic accident. Her friends and family think it’s time she moved on, but how can she when she’s lost her soulmate?

On New Year’s Eve, Anna calls Spencer’s old phone just to hear his voicemail greeting. But to her surprise someone picks up. Brody answers and is the first person who truly understands what Anna is going through. As they begin to speak regularly, Anna finds herself opening up and slowly she discovers how to smile again, how to laugh, even how to hope.

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again?"

This book is so beautiful.

Anna's husband Spencer died in an accident. He was hit by a drunk driver walking to the shop near their home. Three years on, Anna is still struggling to come to terms with his death. She meets up with his parents, brother and sister-in-law for fortnightly lunches and this probably doesn't help with the moving on thing either. She also senses that his mother is becoming distant with her. It shows an honest account of a relationship between the wife and parents of a deceased person.

Anna's best friend, Brazilian food stylist Gabi pushes Anna to try and meet someone new but she just isn't ready.

Distraught at the thought of entering a new year without him, Anna calls his mobile number just to hear his voice on the voicemail message but someone picks up. Brody. They end up talking on the phone for over a year, really helping each other. Brody is hiding something from Anna too.

You really feel the aching pain that Anna is feeling after losing her husband. Brody's struggles are written exceptionally well and your heart really goes out to him. The development of both characters throughout the book is wonderful.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro - 5/5
"It's a lonely life for Stan, at a new school that feels more ordeal than fresh start, and at home where he and his mother struggle to break the silence after his father's death. When he encounters fearless, clever Charlie on the local common, all of that begins to change. Charlie's curiosity is infectious, and it is Charlie who teaches Stan, for the first time, to stand on his own two feet. But will their unit of two be strong enough to endure in a world that offers these boys such different prospects?

The pair part ways, until their paths cross once again, as adults in London. Now Stan is revelling in all that the city has to offer, while Charlie seems to have hit a brick wall. He needs Stan's help, and above all his friendship, but is Stan really there for the man who once showed him the meaning of loyalty?"

Oh this book is just wonderful.

It is a slow paced, character driven novel split into three parts.

In Part One we meet 13 year old Stan Gower from Newford, Surrey. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with 16 year old Charlie Wells. Stan is intrigued by this mysterious boy. 

Stan is reserved and conscientious and is being bullied at school as he is unlike the others. He doesn't "come from money" and is at the school on a scholarship. Confident Charlie helps him to realise that he is just as worthy as anybody else and helps him stand up for himself.

The relationship between them changes when it becomes common knowledge that Charlie is from the Traveller community (I am using this term as it is the one that is used in the book). His bullies use this as another target for Stan and his mother isn't happy with their friendship. They lose contact.

I really like the polarities between the two boys; Stan only has his mum after his father's death the year before and Charlie with his huge family. But they do have this "common ground" where they aren't accepted.

Part Two is set in 2012 and this time, the story is told from Charlie's point of view. He is now 25 years old and married to Kate. He seems like a shell of his former self, in an unhappy marriage, living in a rented flat in London and disliking his warehouse job. Your heart really does go out to him.

Charlie accidentally reconnects with Stan who is now a journalist. Stan realises that Charlie is the one who needs help now, just like Charlie helped him when he was a teen.

There is a political tone that runs throughout the book, touching on classism, fascism and nationalism and it is very well developed. I have never read a story like this one and I just loved every bit of it.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Body Of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Body Of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter - 4/5
Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass. With puberty comes the changeling period - when her final marks will appear and her future is decided.

The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste's excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.

Celeste's marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste's marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother's future that she must keep to herself - and Miles is keeping a secret of his own. When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own.


This dystopian fiction novel is set in a time where girls are born with markings on their bodies. How these markings look and where they are positioned tell them what the girls are destined for. Their futures are outlined.

The story follows 16-year-old Celeste and her 18-year-old brother Miles. Miles is obsessed with studying markings which isn't usually something a boy does. Readings and interpretation roles are usually held by women. He practices by reading his sister's markings and using the family's copy of the book Mapping the Future: An Interpretative Guide to Women and Girls.

This was a tough read given the recent news stories here regarding women's safety. In this novel, when girls are changing into women, they lose their childhood markings and develop their adult ones. They have a changeling period.

During this changeling period, it is advised that women do not go out after dark. Changelings are irresistible to men who just can't control themselves so they run the risk of being abducted. If abducted, when released after the end of the changeling period, it is the woman's fault. She is damaged. This information then goes on their official government markings transcript and universities will not accept their application.

Women's bodies are not their own. They must have their markings inspected twice yearly and women can be detained by police for an impromptu markings inspection. You also must stay with your assigned gender at birth and relationships are advised to be one man with one woman or they will receive no government support.

When studying markings, Miles makes a discovery that might be able to help girls and teams up with Celeste and interpreter Julia to help them take control of their bodies and lives.

This is a very well developed and intricately planned book. I was completely lost in this world and it is just fascinating to read about.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Playmobil Zoo Range | Toy Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these products for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

We are massive fans of the Playmobil range of toys, as are many others considering that the company have been around since 1974!

My six-year-old daughter E was very excited to received a fabulous bundle of toys from the Playmobil Zoo range. Anyone who knows E, knows how much she adores animals. Her dream job is a vet but I'm thinking after this it may change to zookeeper!

We received the Orangutans with Tree, Pandas with Cub and Gorilla with Babies.

We got to setting all three boxes up and it was so easy to do, I'd say less than ten minutes! The instructions are super easy to follow along with. There are a few small pieces though so I would recommend these for children aged 4 and over.

The Orangutans with Tree is a very cute set with a lot of pieces included. Not only do you get the tree and four orangutans, the set also includes a a female zookeeper (which I loved!), bananas, apples, swinging ropes and accessories for the zookeeper.

It is built for creative play and E was delighted to be able to come up with her own scenarios; from having the orangutans interact with each other and climbing trees, to having the zookeeper come for feeding time.

The Orangutan with Tree set retails at £19.99.

The Pandas with Cub (£6.99) and Gorilla with Babies (£9.99) sets are a wonderful addition to the bigger sets and add an extra element of play. E especially loved having them all interact with each other and it was sweet to watch her use the adult animals to take care of the younger ones.

The Pandas with Cub set contains two adult pandas with one cub and the Gorilla with Babies set contains one adult gorilla and two babies.

The limbs are poseable so you are able to make them stand, sit, swing or hold things. All of the toys and pieces are such great quality and I can definitely see them being played with a loads and lasting a good lot of years.

Playmobil do a massive range of Zoo themed sets and E has already asked for a few of them for her birthday in September. I am excited to see how big we can build her zoo!

You can find out more about the range at the Playmobil website and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Monday 22 March 2021

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington | Blog Tour Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington - 4/5
"Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty's Prison Shrewsbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.

Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.

The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny."

Horror isn't a genre that I read a lot of, I am more a psychological thriller kind of person, but I really wanted to branch out this year and it sure has paid off. I couldn't put this book down and read it in less than 24 hours.

Elly Shadow is mother to six-year-old Rosie, a child who isn't quite normal. Lennie believes that he is Rosie's father and Elly keeps him away from Rosie until her sixth birthday. When Lennie visits her for this first time, he realises just how strange this little girl is. Rosie does not care for him either and is angry at him being there.

When leaving the house, Lennie, who is usually very safe, crashes into an old yew tree and dies on impact. Did Rosie cause this? We discover that a woman is thought to have died there recently but her body was never found. This old yew tree has great significance.

The story then follows both Rosie and Lennie's partner of three years, Clare, who is a university student and also works as a guide at an old prison that is now used for tours.

After Lennie's death, Clare's manager Archie takes a real interest in her. He isn't who he claims to be. What is his connection to Rosie? And will Clare find out the truth?

Honestly, this book has the most grotesque descriptions. It follows themes of the undead and cannibalism. You do need to suspend belief and it gives me American Horror Story vibes.

There is a lot of creepy, tense build up, especially regarding Rosie, and you are desperate to get to the crux of the story. I loved the scenes from the prison and I felt like I was transported there. 

Rosie Shadow is the first book in the Black Tongue series and I am definitely interested in seeing what comes next.


A massive thank you to Literally PR for having me along on the blog tour. You can find out more information about the other bloggers that are taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Saturday 20 March 2021

The One Hundred Years Of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book as well as an Artful box in order to take part in this readalong. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The One Hundred Years Of Lenni and Margot - 5/5
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it's not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor's orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

This is the most beautiful book I've ever read. I cried so much and genuinely felt emotionally exhausted after finishing it. 

Lenni Pettersson is a 17-year-old girl with a terminal illness. Whilst in hospital she meets 83-year-old Margot Macrae at an art class run by the hospital. Whilst there, they realise that their ages combined make 100. They decide that they will paint a picture for each year they have been alive; one hundred pictures.

When drawing these pictures, they tell the stories behind them to each other. This allows them to each be transported to that time in the other person's life. We learn about Lenni's childhood in Sweden before she moved, her family relationships and Margot's stories of the war, her parents and her relationships. Each of these are told wonderfully.

Lenni is the most fantastic character. She is sassy and I love her questioning of Jesus to Father Arthur, trying to make him uneasy. Their developing friendship is a beautiful tale to read.

I feel like everyone needs to read this book. It's a tale of unlikely friendship, kindness and just being there for each other. Even though I cried big whopping tears, I truly think this is one of my favourite books ever.

A massive thank you to Tandem Collective for having me on the readalong. There is a fantastic call to action which you can see in the graphic below.

Also thank you to Tandem for the gift of an Artful box. If you want to buy one yourself, use discount code ARTLENNI for £5 off!

Thursday 18 March 2021

The Split by Laura Kay | Book Review

The Split by Laura Kay - 4/5
"Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless... but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily's cat.

After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism.

Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills... or will their ridiculous plan pay off...?"

Hooray for a sapphic romcom!

When I was first starting this book, I expected a typical romance but it is so much more.

Ally lives with girlfriend Emily on her houseboat in London. When Emily breaks up with Ally and tells her that she is now seeing Sara from work, Ally feels like she has no choice but to move back in with her dad in Sheffield, taking cat Malcolm along too.

She is desperate to get Emily back and after rekindling her friendship with childhood friend Jeremy, they decide to give themselves a purpose. Jeremy is reeling after a heartbreak too and when he discovers ex-boyfriend Ben is running the half marathon, they decide to give it a go too. How hard can it be?

I really enjoyed this book. It is less about trying to get your ex-partner back and more about finding yourself outside of a relationship. It is obvious that Ally lost herself during her relationship with Emily and it seems like she was quite dependent on her. It was lovely to read about her being her own person and doing things for herself.

I absolutely love the characters of Ally and Jeremy and I wish I could be their friend! This book really made me laugh out loud at places and it is quite relatable in parts too.

Monday 15 March 2021

Born Of Wind by J. B. Lesel | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a digital copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Born Of Wind by J. B. Lesel - 4/5
"Meleena never quite fitted in among her fellow aquatic Meruyans, always skipping school to hide out and marvel at the natural world around her. So when she wins a place on the coveted Council Apprenticeship team, no one is more surprised than she is.

As she embarks on a tour of the nations, Meleena’s curiosity catches the attention of the Warix, a race born with the power to control wind. But she is unprepared for the secrets she uncovers as she explores this new land. The Warix are locked in a deadly civil war, and her own people are being oppressed and exploited with no way out.

Desperate to resolve this tangled conflict, Meleena sets out to locate an ancient weapon sought by both sides. Can she unite these warring peoples in time to save her own?"

This is a wonderfully immersive fantasy novel and fantastic debut.

I only just dipped my toe into the world of fantasy at the beginning of this year and this was the perfect book to make me love the genre.

The story follows Meleena, a Meruyan from Pontai'Desa who has been skipping a lot of her last year of school to sneak into the forest and sketch the nature and animals. Coming from a land focused on fishing and farming, she must choose one to be an apprentice in but she isn't interested in either. She wants to be a naturalist.

After, surprisingly, getting an apprenticeship with the council, and visiting neighbouring lands, she aims to make her wish come true.  

At the same time, Flax, a Warix goes undercover as a spy to Sen'Drorn City from Sen'Prin City. He gets an apprenticeship in Borax's workshop.

Both Meleena and Flax discover more than they bargained for on their respective journeys.

Born Of Wind is amazingly descriptive and you are fully immersed in this world. You learn more about the relationships both past and present between the cities, what caused 'The Great Split' and subsequent wars.

Meleena is the perfect protagonist and it is a real coming of age story. You can't help but root for her.

Friday 12 March 2021

Mother by Laura Jarratt | Blog Tour Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book in order to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Mother by Laura Jarratt - 4/5
Two Girls. One Chance.

When Lizzie's car crashes with her two daughters inside, she faces a terrible choice. And when she recovers from her injuries, she has to deal with the impact of that tragedy as well as the police investigation into it.

As Lizzie and her family struggle to come to terms with the events of that night, things take an even darker turn. Just what did happen on that remote country road? Who is responsible? And can the family get through this together...Or will the truth finally tear them apart?

This is totally gripping.

Lizzie is a 45-year-old family law barrister and is married to Dan, who is a criminal law barrister. They have two children, Portia their moody teenager and 7-year-old "ray of sunshine" adopted daughter Becca.

After taking the children on a trip away to the Scottish Borders whilst Dan has to work, she has an accident and her car plunges into a lake. She is faced with the horrible realisation that she will not be able to save both children so she must choose.

As a mother of two children myself, I cannot comprehend being in that situation and it is very heartbreaking and thought provoking. The accident is written brilliantly and we don't find out which child has survived until further into the story.

The police look at Lizzie and question her as they think she has fallen asleep at the wheel but she cannot remember a thing. Both Lizzie and Dan have jobs in which they can make enemies easily. Was it someone else's fault?

This book really focuses on the heartbreaking reality of losing a child and the unbearable guilt of believing that it was your fault. It explores their relationships with each other and how the death affects Lizzie, Dan and the surviving child and their mentalities are described wonderfully.

I was completely gripped the whole way through and honestly did not know what was coming next. I feel like as soon as I got over one shock, I got another. 


A massive thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers that are taking part in this tour in the graphic below.

Monday 8 March 2021

Growing Season by Seni Glaister | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Growing Season by Seni Glaister - 4/5
"Danny is riddled with anxiety. But he wants to be strong for his wife Sam. She’s been through so much already.

If only he had someone to talk to.

Sam is facing a very different future to the one she expected. She’s ready to move on, yet other people won’t let her.

If only she had someone to talk to.

Their new neighbour Diana is hiding from her past. She wanted a new life. Now she’s got it she feels angry and alone.

If only she had someone to talk to.

Each of them is hiding their pain. Each of them needs to heal. But only when they learn to let each other in will they finally be able to grow."

This is an absolutely beautiful book that is wonderfully written. 

"Accept yourself for who you are and you'll like yourself more."

Sam and Danny move from South West London to the countryside. It is clear from the beginning that Danny is an extremely anxious person but is hiding quite a bit of it from wife Sam. He enjoys routine and stability. Sam has had a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Danny commutes to London on the train whilst Sam stays at home. A neighbour tells Sam not to go into the woods as a "crazy woman" lives there, who they believe to be a witch. Sam goes for a walk in the woods and bumps into said woman, Diana, and strikes up an unlikely friendship. 

Diana moved herself into a caravan in the woods to live simply and lightly. She adores nature and Sam is now the owner of a cottage with a garden for the first time so they bond over that. Diana teaches her but it runs much deeper than just about gardening. Sam hears about Diana's easy and carefree life, pretty much the opposite of her own. Both of these ladies end up having a lot in common.

Diana is such an interesting character. The nature descriptions are beautiful and as a non-gardener, it makes me want to discover my green thumb. 

Friday 5 March 2021

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin | Book Review

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin - 3/5

"After years spent in the city, working with his business partner Randy on Bränd media, Ethan finds himself in the quiet, closed-off town of Starkfield. His wife Zenobia is perpetually distracted by the swirling #MeToo politics, the Kavanaugh hearings, and her duties to the feminist activism group she formed: All Them Witches. Ethan finds himself caught between their regular meetings at his home and the battle to get his livewire daughter Alex to sleep.

But the new, stilted rhythm of his life is interrupted when he receives a panicked message. Accusations. Against Randy. A slew of them. And Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most."

The Smash-Up is a modern retelling of the 1911 novel 'Ethan Frome' by Edith Wharton, not one that I've read before.

Ethan and Zo (Zenobia) live in Starkfield, Massachusetts after moving there from New York 16 years ago. Zo is a filmmaker and Ethan sold his shares in his company that he co-founded with friend Randy. Randy wanted to move the business to LA whilst Zo wanted to stay in New York so Ethan chose her. 

In present day, they have an 11 year old daughter called Alex who has ADHD and have recently moved in a girl in her early twenties, Maddy, to help with babysitting.

Trump has just been elected President, Brett Kavanaugh's hearing is airing, it's the height of the #MeToo movement and Zo is part of an activist group with the local women called All Them Witches. This gives Zo a purpose but it is affecting her and Ethan's relationship. It doesn't help when Randy has accusations made against him and asks for Ethan's help.

I'll be honest and say that I struggled with this book. The main plot of the story is very important but I just think the writing style wasn't for me, combined with the slow pace of the book and the fact that I didn't particularly like any of the characters, aside from Alex. I must say that the sensory issues were written extremely well with regards to her.

The last 20% really turned it around. The ending was very well done and did surprise me. 

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker - 5/5
"Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim - heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop - she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy's attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a 'scummy mummy', who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media's rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle..."

Oh my goodness, this book! What an opener! You know in Friends when Joey has to put The Shining in the freezer? That is me with Call Me Mummy.

It is mostly told from the perspectives of "Mummy" and Kim. Pregnant Kim is in a clothing store with her children, not paying much attention to them. "Mummy" keeps an eye on her, thinking that she is lucky to even have children. She instantly classes her as a bad mother.

One of Kim's children, Tonya, wanders off and "Mummy" sees an adult sized bite mark on her arm and decides that she needs to rescue her. So she takes her.

The book follows the aftermath, Kim and partner Steve's life following the abduction and the birth of their new baby. Kim is portrayed by the media as a "scummy mummy" and the internet trolls come out in full force. 

We learn about Tonya's life in this new ladies' house and having a six-year-old daughter myself, this was hard reading considering the character of Tonya is the same age.

Both Kim and "Mummy" have had troubled pasts and these are very well-developed and honestly hard to read about. 

This book really pulls at every emotion and I am just in awe at how it is written. Absolutely fantastic, but I am a little traumatised!