A lovely treat through the letter box in Clare Fisher’s All the Good Things. It was a rainy Monday and my kindle battery had died so I looked to my unread book shelf and this caught my eye. From page one I was hooked in Beth’s story – at 21 years old she is in prison, and can only see the bad in herself. When her psychiatrist suggests writing down all the good things she remembers Beth feels she will struggle. Soon however she has remembered her job at the Odeon, Orange Wednesdays, being friends with Chantelle and “your dad”.
It’s not revealed until the end of the book why Beth is in prison, but I felt from reading you could probably begin to get an idea from reading between the lines. In writing her notebook you become immersed in Beth’s life – her struggles with an absent mother, being passed through the foster care system and in believing she’d found love with a married man. When she is pregnant she has little money and becomes embroiled in debt.
It’s difficult not to feel for Beth and by the end I was a little teary at her story – probably had more effect on me being a new mum myself that I could have more of a connection in that way to the character.
A great little page turner for a rainy day!
All The Good Things
Penguin - Viking
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone - even a 100% bad person - deserve a chance to be good?
We were absolutely ecstatic to receive a very special bloggers copy of Rowan’s latest novel A Summer of Impossible Things and eager to get lost amongst it’s pages!
In a new turn for Rowan this story explores the possibility of time travel, but in a very clever way. Luna and her sister have lost their mum and are visiting America to sell off her old family home, but the death of their mother has uncovered some major secrets about who Luna is and being back in her mum’s childhood home has some unsettling effects for Luna – she finds she is literally drawn back in time and it’s possible that it’s down to her to change the tragic events of the past and hopefully make a new brighter future for her family.
The plot was very cleverly put together for this story and despite the time travel it was never unclear where you were in time or the story and the plot unwound naturally. I really enjoyed the relationship between Luna and her sister and how Luna supported her sister through her own issues. Luna was selfless in her determination to resolve the issues from the past even though it was clear this could mean she lost herself and her own happiness in the process.
The subplot of Luna’s own love interest in the past was also well done – showing two people drawn together by fate and unexpected circumstance and how they can overcome barriers to find love.
There are very few time travelling novels that I’ve actually enjoyed but I can genuinely add this one to the list. A beautiful book!
The Summer of Impossible Things
29th June 2017
This summer, get ready to believe in Impossible Things with the brand new book from international bestseller, Rowan Coleman. This is THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE for a new generation of readers. Available to pre-order now!
If you could change the past, would you?
Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.
Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.
At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?
With thanks to the publisher for sending me this surprise book in the post – when Sarah is summoned by her Godfather to his school for ragged children following the death of her father, she is surprised by his request that she come to the school and assist with the paperwork, for he is in ill health and needs assistance. On her very first day she is thrown into the deep end with the discovery of a new pupil for the school, a little girl found by the side of her dead mother and so traumatised she has lost the power of speech, without a name Sarah calls her Monday after the day of the week she is found.
Her experiences at the school are a learning curve for Sarah as she tries to understand the teaching methods and how the staff manage to make ends meet with limited supplies and budget. Growing close to the staff (the school master in particular), Sarah grows in confidence and is soon facing big challenges and thinking up big plans to keep the school running.
A very interesting read however the ending in this case left me a little disappointed as there were a few plot lines that weren’t tied up – however this book is the beginning of a series so I’m sure that this strings will be followed into the next book and this works well as a way to get the reader to read on
Sarah herself was a very interesting character who is showing signs of being a women striving for independence in a world where men saw women as second class – where they should be at home in a domestic environment and not running business – it’s clear that there are other strong women also emerging and who will probably feature more in a later book – perhaps with more direct gaze on the suffragette movement?
The Ragged School Series
20th October 2016
A little girl is found abandoned on a beach one chilly Monday in October, alone apart from the body of her mother, cold beside her.
Rendered completely silent by her traumatic experience, she is given the name Monday by the woman who discovers her and takes her to the Red Cliffs Ragged School - an old, crumbling building perched above the Torquay bay.
Her saviour, twenty-two-year old Sarah Sullivan, has also had a tough life. But when she was summoned to help out at Red Cliffs - a haven for poverty-stricken children from the cities - by her godfather Samuel she also found her own second chance within its walls. Now she will do anything to help the mischievous, loveable children there. Especially Monday whose continued silence tears at her heart.
But with Samuel's health failing and his grasping nephew Christian eager to inherit, Red Cliffs is under threat. Sarah needs to fight - the children need her, and surprisingly she find she needs them. Will she be able to save the school and protect the little girl she's come to love so much, the one she's named Monday's Child?
I was intrigued when I heard that Graham Norton was releasing his debut fiction novel, having watched him on TV for years and finding him immensely entertaining I wondered what his writing debut would bring and set about getting the book from net galley.
Those that seen Norton may have certain expectations on what he would write about and you’ll probably find yourself very surprised when you start this book.
PJ Collins is the local police officer in a village not used to much police action, over weight and not used to drama when a body is discovered on an old farm PJ is suddenly at the centre of what could be the unravelling of a huge village secret.
In their youth Eve Ross and Brid Riodran fought over the affections of Tommy Burke, but then he disappeared ‘to London’ leaving both women in the lurch and with lives that could have been very different.
In the following investigations many secrets are unearthed and old rivalries stirred – it’s definitely not what you’d expect from Norton but a wonderful and exceptionally well written debut novel full of surprises (of the good kind!)
An excellent debut which I will be recommending to all!
Hodder & Stoughton
6th October 2016
Graham Norton's masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke - a former love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
If He Really Loved Me sees us meet Holly firstly 2 years in the future, with a happy baby, son and apparently husband, but before her husband is revealed we travel back Picking up from where book one in The Liberty Sands trilogy left us as Holly tries to find a moment to reveal to son Harry that follwing her holiday romance she is pregnant.
Still avoiding Phillippe and determined not to reveal to him she is pregnant it seems history is set to repeat itself. But with the relationship with his mum set to change Harry thinks it’s time to find out who his father is and that every child deserves to know their father.
Phillippe meanwhile is set on tracking down Holly and finding out if they can make things up, but it seems he will get a surprise when he does find her. Can they be honest with each other and make a go of things, or are there too many secrets in the way of the relationship?
There are plenty of twists in this saga and a few characters are developed a little more, with secrets being unhidden and new information revealed – there are some nice surprises in the way that take this away from the holiday romance of the first book and make the characters much more three dimensional with their own problems and histories.
The end of the book leaves you guessing and hanging on to delve straight into book 3 to find out exactly who Holly is going to end up with in her happily ever after! I can’t wait for more!
If He Really Loved Me...
The Liberty Sands Trilogy
25th November 2015
Book one in the Liberty Sands Trilogy, Life's a Beach and Then..., introduced us to Holly, Harry and Philippe; If He Really Loved Me... continues their captivating story, from love to heartbreak. trust to betrayal, and back again.
Single mum, Holly Wilson, and her twenty-year-old son,Harry, have an enviably close relationship but when Harry finds out that she is pregnant and, for reasons unknown to all but herself, intends to raise the baby alone again, he begins to question her decision not to tell him about his own father, who abandoned them before his birth.
Upon discovering his father's name, Harry secretly embarks on his search for the truth, a search which takes him to Los Angeles where he uncovers a tragic story. Still reeling from what he has learned, an extraordinary twist of fate brings Harry and Philippe, the father of Holly's unborn child, face to face. Should Harry tell him about the baby and risk damaging his relationship with his mum forever? If he does, will Philippe want to be a husband and father? And will Holly be prepared to give Philippe a second chance?
I read this book without knowing the actual title or author when I discovered a lot of other bloggers talking about it under the #ReadWithoutPrejudice tag it was available as through netgalley. I was intrigued by the idea of reading a book without having seen a cover or having any preconceptions based on the author and am glad I did so. This was a brilliant campaign for a book whose main topic is prejudice.
Ruth works on the labour ward of the hospital where she’s been for 20 years, she’s worked hard to get where she is, lost her husband to the war and has a son who is doing wonderful at school. Then on a normal day at work as she exams a new born baby she is faced with prejudice by the baby’s parents who request she does not touch their child.. why? Because Ruth is black and the parents are white supremacists. When that baby later dies after being left in Ruth’s care she is found in a frightening situation where everyone blames her for the death.
The book is full of twists and turns and does a wonderful job of highlighting racial prejudices even in those who don’t believe themselves to be racist. The developing friendship between Ruth and her lawyer Kennedy is also very well written and I loved how the two played off each other to highlight the issues Ruth faces as a black woman.
You are constantly left wondering how the book will end and there are some very big twists before the conclusion (which I won’t spoil), you won’t be able to put this book down! It certainly lives up to it’s title as a small great thing.
Small Great Things
Hodder & Stoughton
22nd November 2016
When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.