Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Letters to Iris - Elizabeth Noble


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Standard Deviation - Katherine Heiny



Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.
In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, re enters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?


I was drawn into this book immediately - I just loved it from page one. The book as such has no plot, rather it ambles through the lives of Graham and Audra and all whom they come into contact with. Not forgetting also their son Matthew and those he interacts with too - especially the members of the Origami Club.

Maybe you feel already the book is not for you, and you may be right if you like a beginning, middle and end, rather than a peek into other people's lives. It's kind of like an extended sitcom episode where you just love all the characters and wish you could be there with them.Don't get me wrong plenty happens, but it's just life - however in the hands of Katherine Heiny it is laugh out loud funny.

The star of the book for me is Audra - and whilst you may think she is an empty bucket that makes the most noise, when you look deep down, as Graham her husband often does, you see that actually she's quite the strategist. Mainly to progress her son she forges bonds and unlikely friendships but there is also a very kind side to her demonstrated through the multitude of house guests invited to stay - and we aren't talking overnight here.

Audra also has some cracking lines such as  "...his employee discount to buy some scented candles and I told him he should buy one for Elspeth but he said she didn't believe in them. How can you not believe in scented candles? They're not like UFOs". I could quote so many more fantastic lines like that.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars and my thanks go to Netgalley for a copy to review

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Days of Wonder - Keith Stuart


Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.
But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah's diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen on the brink of adulthood, that time is coming.
With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.
A tale about growing up, the beauty of a special bond between father and daughter, and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you'll read all year.


I wanted to read this book as I loved the first novel by Keith, A Boy Made of Blocks. Yet again Keith has not disappointed with this his second novel. I needed to brush away the tears to write this review. I was a little worried about reading on public transport as I thought I might cry. Why wouldn't you with a description containing the words  "Hannah's diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early". Fortunately I only gave way to tears at the end of the book in the safe confines of my home. 

The book is divided into Tom and Hannah each telling their version of events, both in the past and when the story is set. If I have one tiny criticism it is not knowing when in time the book is set. There is flipping back in the story to when Hannah is a little girl, but I had assumed wrongly that the present day was where the story was set. Then cultural references popped up such as dial up, Sugababes, Pop Idol and I began to realise that this was not the case. Just a personal thing but it began to bug me, as I wanted to place it in a time slot.  In the end I decided it was 2004 with the many references throughout the book. Edited to say that there is a cover page which states 2005! I must have quickly flipped past this on my kindle.

I settled into the story and it was a joy to read despite having a sad undertone. So many lovely characters and each with their own  back story, that it had a real community feel to it. What interesting lives too. Although they are all there to support Hannah, each of them also has their own private turmoil, which we get to know about as the book unfolds. There is also a lot of humour in the book which I loved. I think my favourite character was Margaret who at 81 is Hannah's closest friend and they have afternoon tea together.

I felt I knew each and every one of them by the end of the novel. There is something about the quality of Keith's writing that I can't describe, it's like no other author I have read. You feel like he's taken you by the hand and led you gently through other people's lives.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Netgalley and Little Brown Book Group for an advance copy to review. Mark your diaries for the 7th June 2018 when it will be published.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Friend Request - Laura Marshall


Maria wants to be friends. 
But Maria is dead . . . isn't she?
When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.
Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.
Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.
As Maria's messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there's much she didn't know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again - until now. . .


This is a book with a very now feel as it features strongly social media, particularly Facebook and the title of the novel is of course a Friend Request on Facebook. Nothing unusual in that until you realise that the friend Louise thought had been dead for 25 years now has an account and wants to be her friend.

There is a flip flop story line between the present day and a looming school reunion in 2016 with Louise's school days in 1989 and a leavers' party. They say you should never go back, but Louise is intent on finding out if the girl she knew in 1989 and tragically died is actually still alive. But what mainly happens is the person she is today becomes tangled up in the teenage girl insecurities she once had. Except now she has a young son to safeguard. 

The only time I got a tiny bit confused is when both timelines where at a party, one for the 1989 leavers and the other the 2016 reunion. As they alternated and both were at a party with the same people I had to concentrate on which era was being featured. Otherwise this was a real page turner of a book. With the author writing characters who all seem to be holding the smoking gun!

There is another story running through the book, which until the end you are not quite sure which character's voice is narrating it. I had various theories, but all were shot dead in the water when the final truth begins to surface and I for one did not see it coming.

I'm giving this book five out of five stars for an excellent read. My thanks to Netgalley for a copy for review. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Now You See Her - Heidi Perks


Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman - Milly Johnson

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by [Johnson, Milly]


Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is the heart-warming and hilarious new novel from the queen of feel-good fiction – a novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it. 


This is the first Milly Johnson novel I've read and it won't be the last.

When we first meet Marnie she is a businesswoman determined to do the best she can in a male dominated world. She has a history of picking the wrong men and is out to make sure that changes - of course it doesn't and so the foundations for the usual chick lit novel I thought were laid out. How wrong I was!

What followed was the most engrossing read. Marnie meets a lady on an internet chat board about Cheesecakes and again at first it seemed a little contrived that the lady goes on to offer Marnie a cottage rent free.

Once Marnie is settled in the cottage a whole whodunnit is unleashed, both about the village and it's lost well, which legend states contains a dead witch - and is Marnie in some way connected to the village? I got totally lost in this book once Marnie began making cheesecakes and living in the village. 

This has to be the first book of this type that I have found to contain so many twists and turns within it. If you think this is going to be a formulaic read, then think again. Yes, there is a love interest and there is some romance but there is also so much, much more.

I found Milly's writing to be very down to earth and at times was a little taken aback at the ground roots language she used - but I liked it. I also liked the way Marnie's character developed and loved the village of Wychwell - I could imagine it, inhabitants, cottages and all through Milly's words.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars and my thanks go to Netgalley for a copy of the book for review.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton