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Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf - Review

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

This book was the January choice for my book club, chosen by Margaret H, who, as I've said before, always ends up choosing books that I really love. So I had high hopes for this, which I haven't even heard of, although I have seen that it is now a film starring Jane Fonda. I'll have to watch that soon!

I'm hoping to be away for my birthday when book club is happening, but thanks to Covid who knows if that will actually happen. If it does, I'll email my thoughts about the book to the group. If Covid stops us I'm sure I can attend the virtual meeting! 

The book is a short novel about two older people, Addie and Louis. Both are widowed and live on streets close to each other in Colorado. One day, Addie has a proposition for Louis: that he should come over some nights and sleep in the bed next to her, so that both can be less lonely. 

Louis is somewhat taken aback, but agrees, and thereafter heads over to Addie's at bedtime. Slowly the two get used to each other, and start to talk about their lives, about their late spouses, and about the death of Addie's daughter Connie when she was a child. It becomes obvious that others in the neighbourhood know the two are seeing each other; they come up against some resistance 

Then into their lives comes Jamie, Addie's grandson. He is dropped off at her house by her son Gene, because Jamie's mother has left and Gene can't cope with him. Jamie is six and is at first shy and withdrawn and prone to nightmares. He oftens ends up sleeping in the bed with Addie and Louis. Louis ends up adopting a dog for him, and Jamie seems happier and more settled than he ever has. But Gene disapproves of Louis' relationship with his mother. 

I really enjoyed this, I liked the quiet and unassuming nature of it. I'm giving it five out of five!

We Watch You by N S Ford - Review and Blog Tour

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog for my stop on the tour for We Watch You by N S Ford! If you haven't been to my blog before, then welcome. Please do have a click around while you're here. I review quite a lot of crime novels so I'm sure you'll find something to pique your interest!

I signed up for this tour because I was really interested by the premise of the novel and it didn't disappoint me. The book is set in a sleepy English town where many people seem to know each other. The main character is Lauren. She is autistic. She lives on her own in a flat and has done ever since her ex, who was bad news, and she split up. She works in an estate agents and she likes to run. She has two best friends, Jess and Claire. 

They tell her that a girl they know, Tina, has gone missing. The four of them were friends as teenagers but fell apart after something happened and something bad happened to Tina. But Lauren finds that she really cares what has happened to Tina so she goes to visit Tina's mum and sister. She tries to get into Tina's room to see if she can find any clues, but Tina's sister stops her. But Tina's mum is convinced that Tina is still alive. 

There is also a man following Lauren around. At first she doesn't realise she's being followed, but she sees him everywhere, always typing on his laptop. The reader is given some parts of what he's typing, and it's obvious he's some kind of private investigator. We don't know who he's been hired by, but he's obviously not on Lauren's side. 

Then two things happen, one to Jess and one to Claire, and it is obvious that someone is targetting the girls. The things that happen involve maliciousness and someone knowing a lot of secrets. Can it really be Tina? Is she still alive? Lauren's flat gets broken into, and she knows exactly what the person is searching for...

I liked the mystery and the writing. I liked how Lauren was autistic and how this was explained in the book. I liked the crux of the mystery. I thought the end of the book set up for a second in the series, so I'll be interested to see if that happens! I would definitely read something else by the same author. 

The Very Merry Murder Club, edited by Serena Patel and Robin Stevens - Review

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

I have to show you the front cover of this book but also the cover of the hardback under the dust jacket, and the beautiful end papers! This book was a joy to hold and would make a lovely gift for the middle grade reader in your life! I saw it promoted on Robin Stevens' twitter and pre ordered it immediately. I saved it for just before Christmas because all the stories are set at Christmas or in the winter. 

There's a mixture of stories, featuring a mixture of families and diverse kids, which I liked. I liked the spooky mystery stories and my favourite was the murder mystery set in a hotel where a family has to stay when their car has broken down. There was a couple of stories I didn't like as much, but that's what happens with anthologies. I found the book a bit hard to read, but I think that's because it was the week before Christmas when I'm always humming with anxiety anyway. But, I do think this is a lovely gift for a tween/middle grade reader, and I recommend it for that. 

The Fell by Sarah Moss - Review

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year! I'm a little bit behind on book reviews as I did very little writing for the entire month of December and I now have about five books to write about, plus I want to share the books I got for Christmas (a record breaking eighteen!). My blogs are probably feeling a little bit abandoned, but now it's a new year so I'm ready to get back in the saddle! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year. 

I bought this book in an independent book shop in Thirsk when I was there in November. It is signed by the author which is really nice, I like to collect signed books. I've read a couple of Sarah Moss books this year and I'll definitely be keeping a look out for more as I really like her simple and uncomplicated prose. 

This book is set in Derbyshire, in the Peak District, in November 2020. It is the first book I've read set in the pandemic and it's interesting, isn't it, to see how it will be depicted in books and films in years to come. Kate lives with her son Matt, and they are currently having to isolate as they've had contact with someone with Covid. They have to isolate for two weeks and they're in the middle of that when Kate can't take it anymore and leaves the house to walk up the fell. 

Alice, their next door neighbour, sees her go. Alice has breast cancer and must shield during the pandemic. Kate and Matt have been bringing her shopping. Kate is furloughed from her job as a waitress and is going slightly mad stuck in the house. It's not exactly a surprise that she breaks the rules and goes for a walk, but Alice doesn't feel able to go to and stop her.

Matt is in the house by himself. Kate is a somewhat chaotic mother but the two get on okay. It takes a while for Matt to realise that Kate has gone out and not returned for several hours. He asks Alice for help, but of course they have to communicate through a closed door. Alice is worried about him but can't do much to help. 

Kate falls and injures herself and when she comes round she's pretty sure something is broken. She tries to help herself, but can't. Matt, realising she is missing, phones the police, even though he knows she's broken the law and is concerned that she will get a fine that they caqn't afford to pay. The police arrive and also have to speak to Matt through a closed door. They send mountain rescue to find Kate and that's the fourth point of view in the book - volunteer rescuer Paul. He must leave his daughter Ellie, for whom it's his custody weekend, to go out in the dark to try to find Kate. 

The book swaps between points of view. It's short but so well done. I felt sympathy for all the characters and understood how Kate felt. Four out of five!

Did Not Finish - Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Thursday, December 23, 2021

It is so rare that I don't finish a book, but I just couldn't get on with this at all. I thought I'd just write a quick post, because it really seems like a me problem than a problem with the book.

I saw loads of people rave about this series of books, so I bought the first two probably like six months ago and was looking forward to reading them. I have to admit, I thought they were Young Adult fiction and was surprised when I started this and it isn't! Chloe is thirty one, so I don't know why I thought it was otherwise... but I did. 

At the beginning of the book Chloe lives in her parents' mansion with her younger sisters, her parents, and her grandmother. Chloe works in social media and she is also chronically ill. She has fibromyalgia and I think arthritis and a lot of joint problems. She sometimes has to take a lot of painkillers and lives with brain fog because of that. I loved all this part of what I read - there aren't enough books about chronically ill young people and I liked how honest Chloe was about her illness and her pain and her limitations. (I suffer with chronic pain myself so empathised and sympathised). 

She is almost knocked down while walking on the street, and regards it as a near death experience. She is pretty shaken up and decides to write a bucket list of things she wants to do. First on the list is to move out of her parents' house, so she does. She moves into a block of flats which has a superintendent in residence. Red. He is an artist but he's had a terrible relationship and given it up, so a friend of his has given him the job. As a superintendent. Now I dunno about you but I've literally never heard of a block of flats in the UK that had a superintendent, so I found that weird. Plus at one point the edition I was reading had 'colour' spelt as 'color', I'm not sure if that was intentional. And Chloe and Red are bantering at one point and one of them says something about 'filing your taxes'. Now I'm self employed so I literally do do my own taxes, but I'd never say I 'filed' them. It felt like Americanisms shoved into a British book set in "South Nottinghamshire" and I found that very weird. 

I also found the insta romance a bit hard to swallow. I liked the beginning and I was beginning to care about Chloe and her family, but then she quickly moves out so you don't see all her family much, which disappointed me. She then instantly decides she both hates and likes Red because... he is hot and owns a motorbike? Okay. 

I'd have really preferred this if it was a YA romance, but I'm sorry, it just wasn't for me! 

The Offing by Benjamin Myers - Review

Monday, December 20, 2021

I was given this book last Christmas by Lee's brother and his girlfriend, they thought I would like it and the main character is from Durham as Lee's family is so I get why they liked it. I keep a list of books I got for Christmas and my birthday, and I try to get through them before Christmas and my birthday roll around again. In 2021 I've managed about half of them... We'll see what I get for Christmas! Hah. 

Anyway, this book is set in 1946 just after the end of World War Two. Robert, from a Durham village somewhere near Sunderland, has just finished his exams and left school. He will probably follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and start work as a miner, but before that he wants to go travelling down into North Yorkshire to see a bit of the world. He sets off with not much more than a tarpaulin and a sleeping bag. He finds a few days work at some farms along the way. He intends to go somewhere around Whitby and Scarborough, and wants to swim in the sea. 

On the way he finds a small cottage, the meadow around which is basically eating it, and its owner, Dulcie. She is an older lady, taller than Robert, and she has led a weird and wonderful life. Over the next few weeks, she persuades Robert to stay, sleeping first in the meadow and then in a small summer house on the grounds. She feeds him well, giving him his first taste of lobster and of brandy. She has connections which mean that the rationing going on all over the country doesn't seem to apply to her. She has a wine cellar. She lends Robert books and encourages him to read poetry. She tells him he could go to university. 

Robert is determined to pay his way, so he starts cleaning up the summer house. He wants to hack down the weeds which obscure the view of the sea, but Dulcie is angry with the sea and won't let him. He begins to uncover the truth about her life and the great love of her life. 

The book is written from the perspective of an older Robert, and by the end it's clear exactly who he has become. I liked the lyrical quality to the words and to the descriptions - I could exactly imagine the cottage and the village that Robert walked through to get to the sea. I liked Dulcie and was sympathetic towards her. I loved how Robert's life turned out.

I'm giving this four out of five.

The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks - Review

Thursday, December 16, 2021

I can't remember where I picked up this book, but it can't have been very long ago as it was hanging around by the side of the bed and I knew I wanted to read it soon, so I picked it up towards the end of November. It's a middle grade book about a girl called Zoe, who is twelve.

She lives near Boston with her mum and her stepdad, who is the only dad she's ever known. At the beginning of the book she has her birthday party at a local cake shop, Ari's Cakes, because she loves to bake. She is with her friends Maya and Jasmine.

Back at home her next door neighbour Trevor comes over. Zoe and Trevor used to be friends, but then Zoe overheard Trevor say something about her to his basketball pals, and got upset, so now she's not talking to Trevor and didn't invite him to her birthday party.

She picks up the mail and notices that there's a letter from her biological dad, Marcus, who is in prison for murdering someone. Zoe has never met him or been allowed to ask questions about him, but now she has this letter. She decides to write back, and gets another letter back from Marcus. She starts to do a little research about Marcus' crime. 

Zoe eventually tells her Grandma, who babysits her during the summer holidays, about the letters. She has had a letter from Marcus saying he's innocent, and Zoe desperately wants that to be true. 

Meanwhile, she is doing an internship at Ari's Cakes and her parents have agreed that if she does well, she'll be able to audition for a kids' baking show. Zoe also does some brainstorming of her own to come up with a new cupcake flavour.

Zoe and her family are Black, and so is Marcus, but her stepdad Paul isn't. She's aware of the reactions that she gets when she's out with a white man. She also discovers through her research that men like Marcus are more likely to be the victims of miscarriages of justice.

I really enjoyed this book - it's a cute middle grade with a good plot and some good sideplots too. I liked the characters and wanted Zoe to succeed! I'm giving this five out of five. 


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