#BookReview MIRACLE ON CHERRY HILL by SUN-MI HWANG

ABOUT THE BOOK

Celebrated bestselling author Sun-mi Hwang is back with a heartwarming new novel about renewal and friendship.

This is the story of a man named Kang Dae-su. His whole life is a miracle, rising from poverty to running a successful construction company. In his twilight years, Kang is diagnosed with a brain tumour. He returns to his childhood home of Cherry Hill. He acquires a crumbling old house in which to retreat from the world, yet the residents of the town have other plans. They seem hell-bent on intruding on Kang’s private property. But who does the house, and Cherry Hill, really belong to? Is it owned by the construction company who is trying to rejuvenate the neighbourhood? Or does it belong to the residents who have used the land to play, think, walk, love and explore for generations? And how is the bitter and despondent Kang’s childhood tied to this magical place?

Miracle on Cherry Hill is a redemptive story of a damaged man regaining his trust in humanity. It explores the fragility of nature and human lives and is much-loved classic in South Korea. Includes beautiful illustrations inside.

PUBLISHED BY ABACUS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

WHSmith

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

Stunner of a little book that gives you all the feels! It’s always a delight to read a story that is told in a gentle way and features a character who is returning ‘home’ with the intention of seeing out his last days all alone, but he finds that the home he remembers has been reclaimed by the community. This angers him to begin with, but as he starts to spend time amongst the young and old who use his land for a variety of daily activities, he begins to soften his approach to what he perceives as a harsh world and embraces the warmth he receives from the local community.

The way that Kang deals with his illness by addressing ‘Sir Lump’ is a really clever way of telling his story and the way he looks back on his memories trying to make peace with them. That’s why he wanted to spend time alone, but seeing the world through the eyes of others allows him to take on new things to pass his days. Through talking to others he gets to learn more about himself as a person and the past that he thought he remembered has light shed on it.

There are no big shocks, no twists and turns but it was a beautiful little book that was easy to read and one I’ll be going back to over time.

★★★★

#BookReview THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING by RACHEL DONOHUE #TheTempleHouseVanishing @ThePigeonHoleHQ

ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences.


PUBLISHED BY  CORVUS


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon  £12.99

hive.co.uk  £10.55

whsmith  £10.65

MY REVIEW


I read this via the Pigeonhole app.

This was a dark, unsettling slow burn of a read that really explores the complexities of obsessive love and teenage girls. How growing up can be so tangled and traumatic, and how the art of love can cloud the judgement of those involved.

The story centres around a school where a teacher and young student went missing 25 years ago and the scandal has never really died down. So when a journalist gets the chance to investigate the story a little deeper, even she isn’t prepared for what she’s about to find out.

The story is also told from the viewpoints of the girls from the elite Catholic boarding school – Louisa and Victoria – who were involved at the time with the art teacher Mr Lavelle and his influence on them and other girls under his ‘charge’. This was always the unsettling part of the story for me – a teacher taking advantage of his position, knowing full well that the young girls were battling with their own identities and feeling vunerable. The more you read into the story though, the more you understand just how vindictive and manipulative that teenage girls can be!!

With the mystery into the whereabouts of the teacher and student being told slowly, we get to hear how the events affected everyone then and now – how they were seduced by personalities, probably in rebellion to the strict rules imposed on their day to day life at the school. This art teacher gave them the chance to express themselves more – some may have just taken that a little too literally!

I did find the ‘to and fro’ way of story telling a little confusing at times, and that may have affected my ability to connect more with these characters. They came across as quite heartless and that made it difficult to bond with them, but maybe that was their age showing and it was all just a front to save themselves from hurt. They were quick to put up walls to protect themselves when needed and that was how they dealt with the world around them. None of them wanted to appear vunerable as others would have taken advantage of that fact.

The viewpoint of the journalist was an interesting aspect – she had a vague connection with one of the girls and the area so that helped her delve a little deeper than others had gone, and she often seemed shocked by what she found out. Looking back at life at the school between the girls just goes to show how vicious young women can be – girls are evil!!! But they thought they were in love! They were deluded and their powers of rational thought had long gone so the consequences often proved to be more brutal than they should have been.

An interesting study of characters and a brooding read!


★★★

#BlogTour THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by CHRISTY LEFTERI @ZaffreBooks @christy_lefteri @Tr4cyF3nt0n

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by CHRISTY LEFTERI. My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy Fenton  of Compulsive Readers for letting me be part of the tour.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling. 

published by Bonnier Zaffre

PURCHASE LINKS – paperback release 20th February 2020

WHSmith  £7.37

hive.co.uk  £6.59

amazon  £6.99

MY REVIEW

This is a story of hope and of love, the bond between a husband and wife and the determination of the human spirit to succeed despite the horrors that the world throws their way – and I loved every single minute of it.  Yes it made me cry, but it also filled my heart with so much love and all the warm feelings you get when you find ‘good’ people trying to make the world a better place.

Nuri and Afri are a devoted husband and wife looking for a new life away from the horrors of Syria. They’ve lost a child, Afri has lost her sight, but they know that there must be a better way for them out there so they make the decision to travel to the UK where Nuri’s cousin already lives.  Their journey is anything but easy and we get to follow them along the way and the people they meet, all with their own stories of horror to tell, and all the obstacles placed in their way – how the life of a refugee is plagued with nightmares. Can you ever really escape the horror and destruction you’ve witnessed at first hand?

What struck me most about this book was the beautiful way it was written – the harshness and brutality of war was softened by the exquisite descriptions and language used.  And how quickly their quiet and simple life in Syria was changed beyond recognition due to war and the actions of others.

The story switches between their journey away from Syria, to their time when they reach the UK and the process they have to go through in trying to move on and start new lives in a foreign country. It was brilliantly portrayed without feeling too ‘preachy’ or ‘political’ and gave these characters the time you needed to share their pain and empathise with their plight.

Humbling and touching.

★★★★★

#BookReview THE COTTAGE ON WILDFLOWER LANE by LIZ DAVIES

ABOUT THE BOOK

Esther’s life isn’t perfect (whose is?) – but she’s happy enough living in her little flat with her boyfriend, Josh. But that’s about to change. Bored out of her mind in work, she wishes that something, anything, would happen to liven her life up. Unfortunately, her wish comes true when Josh calls her from the airport to tell her he’s going to work in a bar in Spain, and she’s not invited, Esther is devastated, and her unhappiness is compounded when she discovers she can actually view the bar via a webcam link and watch him chatting up other girls. But when she inadvertently clicks on a link to another webcam which shows a pretty cottage and the rather hunky man who lives in it, her interest is piqued and she wishes she could get to know him. Wishes don’t really come true, though – do they…?

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon


AUTHOR ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: https://lizdaviesauthor.wixsite.com/home

Twitter https://twitter.com/lizdaviesauthor

Facebook: fb.me/LizDaviesAuthor1

MY REVIEW

With a stunningly dreamy cover, this was a story that captured my heart and had me tempted to start searching for cameras online to follow to see if the man of my dreams was out there!! If he is half as good as Kit in this story then I’d be a lucky woman!!

Esther is the focus of this story – her life is tripping along with very little excitement and she thinks she’s in a happy relationship with Josh, but he drops a bombshell when he calls from the airport to say he’s moving out to Spain to work and they’re over! What a charmer!!

Esther has some lovely friends around her to help support her and one of them lets her know about webcams that are filming all over the world at homes and businesses, and she uses this to ‘spy’ on her ex – probably not the smartest way of spending time and helping to heal her broken heart! But while she’s surfing she spots a cam trained on a most charming cottage with gorgeous garden and she finds comfort in watching the goings on here – and the hunky man living there helps!

Meanwhile, we follow the story of Kit who is going through a divorce where his ex is theatening to take him to the cleaners and that means losing his beloved home and business. And seeing him being conflicted by his feelings towards a mystery woman he meets one night was also really enjoyable and leads to lots of fun banter, and romantic star gazing nights! My kind of guy!!

I loved this story – it was so easy to read and relate to the characters! Esther and her attempts at internet dating provided some wonderful moments of humour (and horror!) and her addiction to the webcams proves just how easy we can be addicted to spending time online as it allows us to daydream and lose ourselves when things are proving a little tough. Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BookReview WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by DELIA OWENS

ABOUT THE BOOK

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.

Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.


Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.


PUBLISHED BY CORSAIR


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon


MY REVIEW

Don’t you just love a book that divides opinions to extremes!! This seems to be one of those books and I really wanted to love this and to be wowed after seeing so many amazing and glowing reviews – and for the first half of the book I could understand the plaudits! It features a young girl surviving alone against all the odds as she is left to fend for herself after her mother leaves and then her father disappears for days on end. She was strong, resilient and you couldn’t help but cheer her on as she makes a life for herself alone in the marshes.

BUT, then it all began to unravel for me as it seemed to just turn into a bit of a cliche story, that left me feeling cold and bitterly disappointed! It all just felt too rushed, too manufactured and the wonderful Kya became someone different, and you could guess the ending a mile off! I felt more invested in her as a character when she was out to prove people wrong as she had such a kind heart but that ended up with her being taken advantage of.

Abandoment is at the heart of this book – everyone she ever loved or cared about seemed to leave this poor soul at some point, and many would have crumbled with what she had to put up with, but she was a fighter and seemingly happy to get by on her own, trusting very few people and with good reason not to!


★★★

#BookReview THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE by CHARLIE MACKESY

ABOUT THE BOOK

the Sunday Times Bestseller and New York Times Bestseller.


‘You will not be able to buy a more beautiful book for Christmas for somebody you love’ Chris Evans


A book of hope for uncertain times.


Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.


The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.
‘A wonderful work of art and a wonderful window into the human heart’ Richard Curtis


PUBLISHED BY  EBURY PRESS



PURCHASE LINKS


amazon  

hive.co.uk

waterstones



MY REVIEW


Exquisite. Beautiful. Brilliant. Inspiring. Heartwarming – and a mole who loves cake!! A book every home needs to have a copy of!

Just the perfect book from the jaw-droppingly stunning illustrations to the kind and gentle messages conveyed by the words, this was just a delight to read from the first page to the last. It’s like a giant hug in book form! Loved it!!! Go buy it!!


★★★★★

#BookReview A LADDER TO THE SKY by JOHN BOYNE

ABOUT THE BOOK

A psychological drama of cat and mouse, A Ladder to the Sky shows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul.

If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere. They don’t even have to be your own. Or so would-be writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career. A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely.

Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories. He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top. Stories will make him famous but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.

PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

whsmith

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

A brilliant read! One of those books where you hate the main character but just can’t stop reading to see how he would take advantage of people next and just how low he’d sink in his life, and his quest to be successful. And he sinks low!!

Maurice wants to be a novelist but has no original ideas of his own so when he meets a celebrated older author, Erich Ackerman, in a Berlin hotel he finds a way to get a story as Erich opens up to him, flattered that this handsome young man is so interested in him. And the story he has to tell is worthy of being in any book so Maurice uses his ‘charm’ to be his confidante – happy to toss him aside when his new book is released.

Each chapter then is the next stage in the life of Maurice – the people he meets, uses, loses – and with each revelation, your disgust for this character just grows! Nobody is seemingly safe in his path, and he seems to have no qualms about using others for his own benefit, even those apparently closest to him and a couple of the storylines really had me shocked!

I think we’ve all met characters like Maurice who are happy to take credit where it hasn’t been earned, just as long as they get what they want out of it and their moral compass seems to be missing, but they seem to have this annoying knack of always coming out smelling of roses! He’s brilliantly captured in this book and I found it to be a breathtaking read!

★★★★★