#BookReview MY PEAR-SHAPED LIFE by CARMEL HARRINGTON #MyPearShapedLife

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a joyful, uplifting book for those of us who sometimes wake up and feel we’re not good enough. Spoiler alert: we are!

Meet Greta.

She’s funny.

She’s flawed.

She’s hiding so much behind her big smile she’s forgotten who she is.

But Greta is about to discover that the key to being happy is…being you.

Greta Gale has played the part of the funny fat one her entire life, hiding her insecurities behind a big smile. But size doesn’t matter when you can laugh at yourself, right?
Until Greta realises she’s the only one not laughing. And deep down, she’s not sure if she’ll ever laugh again.

But with her world feeling like it’s falling down around her, Greta is about to discover she’s stronger than she feels. And that sometimes the best moments in life come when it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped…

PUBLISHED BY HARPERCOLLINS

PURCHASE LINKS – e-book format – out now

Amazon

hive.co.uk

paperback – out 16th April 2020

MY REVIEW

I adore Greta!! She is me! She is you! That woman who is smiley on the outside, pretending life is sweet and making fun of herself, but full of crippling doubts on the inside and wishing the pain would just go away. And what the author has done brilliantly in this book is use that connection to us always beating ourselves up that we’re not good enough, and we get what we deserve… when that’s not the case. We are worthy and we need to be true to ourselves to find that happy place we all deserve to live in.

Greta comes from a ‘thin’ family – that’s how she sees it as a woman of a fuller figure, and she seems to react well to the digs and ‘banter’ but beneath the smiles she’s hurting and she’s playing a dangerous game with her health. It’s only when things go too far that her family find out the severity of the situation and she’s forced to face up to how her life is spiralling out of control.

The saving grace in her life is her namesake, Dr Greta Gayle, a hugely successful American lifestyle guru, who she is obsessed with due to them sharing the same name. It’s the only thing they have in common, but she always seems to find inspiration from the Dr and her Instagram posts when she needs guidance.

While in rehab she is stripped away from her crutches in life, and that makes things begin to fall into place for her. Why has she been so afraid to be herself? What is she hiding from? It’s often at our lowest points that life becomes a little clearer and she is forced to make changes in her way of thinking thanks to a therapist and the others she meets while in there. She sees she’s not alone in feeling a failure, or useless, or out of place and that makes her feel a little more connected.

What follows is a trip to America with her beloved Uncle, and both of them find out a lot about themselves while over there and facing up to their pasts. He has lived his life with regrets too so thinks this is the perfect opportunity for both of them to live a little, and I loved their bond and how much they meant to one another. And I loved the nods to The Wizard of Oz throughout!! Read the book and you’ll find out more!

It’s so much easier to say ‘be yourself’ than actually go through with it, and this book perfectly demonstrates that struggle we all go through of trying to fit in, losing sight of who we are and the reliance of outside influences to get us through the day. In Greta, there’s a character who is funny, pretty, smart but yet she can only see her size, and following her on her often painful journey was uplifting, emotional and a delight to be part of! Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE GLITTERING HOUR by IONA GREY #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheGlitteringHour @Iona_Grey @simonschusterUK

A huge delight to be the stop today on the Blog Tour for the beautiful THE GLITTERING HOUR by IONA GREY. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and for putting the tour together, and letting me be part of it all!

17th October 2019 | Paperback Original | £8.99

 ‘An epic story of joyous hedonism and desperate heartache. Just beautiful’ CATHERINE ISAAC 

‘Stunning’ VERONICA HENRY 

‘Gorgeously written … I loved it’ JILL MANSELL

 ‘An enchanting, evocative read  ‘THE SUN 

1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself. 

When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last. But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed. A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters. She tweets @iona_grey.

MY REVIEW

A book that made time reading it fly by  and totally transported me back in time and into the lives of Selina and Lawrence, who were from totally diffeent backgrounds but for one summer circumstances brought them together.  And that Summer has big consequences for little Alice 10 years later, and it was mesmerizing to see what transpired through her eyes and the letters she uncovered.

In 1925 the war is over and Selina is living a footloose and fancy free life! She is on the ‘bright young things’ and her biggest struggles in life are deciding what to wear to the numerous parties she frequents!  One of the parties she’s at is a treasure hunt party and while she’s out with her friends deciphering the clues, she finds herself taking care of an animal and gets help from Lawrence. He’s a struggling artist who is aware of who she is, but goes out of his way to help her that night and that kindness really strikes a chord with her and she can’t stop thinking about him.  She finds herself spotting him at various exhibitions and parties and the more time they spend together, the more they find they can’t live without one another – despite it not being the done thing considering their backgrounds.  Selina has never been one to follow the rules anyway so any chance she gets to spend time with him, she grabs it!

Fast forward 10 years and we follow the story of Alice, who is 10 and living with her grandparents at Blackwood Hall. Her life is one of being left alone, aloof grandparents and governesses, and she  clings to the letters that her mother sends her while she’s away on business with her father. Her mother sets her a treasure hunt through the letters in the form of riddles to help her understand who she is and where she comes from as she gets to see the events of 1925 played out through memories of her mother.

The switching of timelines is perfectly played out throughout this story.  And it really adds to the emotional aspect that runs from the first page to last.  You can’t help but feel sad for Alice who is seemingly so alone and just wants the comfort of her family.  The riddles she is set are wonderful for her inquisitive mind though and gives her hope that she’ll be back with her family soon.

Events of 1925 aren’t all fun and games though and it was so fascinating to see the light and dark aspects of what appeared to have been so glamorous and carefree.  As more revelations of what happened over that summer and the years after come to light, I was enthralled to see just how the stories would resolve and didn’t realise just how emotionally I had become attached to Alice in her journey of discovery.  Captivating!

★★★★★

#BookReview After The End by Clare Mackintosh

ABOUT THE BOOK

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning

PUBLISHED BY SPHERE

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK 

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

This was a very emotive story that cleverly explores the ‘what if’s’ around a married couple dealing with their terminally ill son but disagreeing on the course of treatment for him. The alternate storylines threw me a little bit when I first started reading them, but it soon made perfect sense in allowing the story to be told in this way and really added to your experience of reading as you’d put yourself in that position and wonder what you’d do in a similar position.

Max and Pip are a happily married couple who should be living life to the fullest with their son Dylan, but he’s in hospital with a brain tumour so his life is medication, tube feeding and being made ‘comfortable’. Pip is by his side constantly – her world is the hospital and the other parents and children on the ward – her husband is still working flying back to the US on and off, whilst still consumed by thoughts of his son. When the news about his condition worsens, the split in the outlook of Max and Pip becomes clear – what’s best for Dylan? How do you decide if you can’t agree? So a court case is the way forward…

The story then splits to the alternate timelines – what would happen if Pip got her way to let him die with dignity? and what would happen if Max got his wish to try new treatments in the US? This opens up a great insight into how life could turn out in both scenarios and really showed that there is no real right or wrong in such a tragic situation.

WE also get the viewpoint of Laila, a Dr working at the hospital and dealing with Dylan and how he impact affects her and I really liked seeing this different persepective from someone who has to deal professionally but can’t help but get emotionally attached.

It also brought to light the impact that the role of the media plays – how the public take sides in matters such as these – the abuse that the parents could receive from people who didn’t know all the facts but would make their minds up from what they read in the papers or saw on TV.

I was totally absorbed in this story and found the way the different outcomes were allowed to play out was quite refreshing in the way that it let you see the ‘after’ story evolve, often in ways I didn’t expect. A very moving story.

★★★★

#BookReview Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott @TinderPress

ABOUT THE BOOK

A life-affirming novel of love, loss and letting go – for readers of ELEANOR OLIPHANT, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT On her forty-seventh birthday, Sydney Smith stands on a rooftop and prepares to jump…

Sydney is a cartoonist and freerunner. Feet constantly twitching, always teetering on the edge of life, she’s never come to terms with the event that ripped her family apart when she was ten years old. And so, on a birthday that she doesn’t want to celebrate, she returns alone to St Ives to face up to her guilt and grief. It’s a trip that turns out to be life-changing – and not only for herself.

DO NOT FEED THE BEAR is a book about lives not yet lived, about the kindness of others and about how, when our worlds stop, we find a way to keep on moving.

published by Tinder Press

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £15.25

whsmith  £13.29

waterstones  £18.99

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a really touching and emotional read featuring a cast of wonderful characters who are all dealing with their own grief and sadness, and how the kindness of others is sometimes the turning point in a life devoid of much hope and is able to give people a new perspective on what is happening in their life.

The story centres around Sydney who has dealt with some major trauma in her youth, and has carried that with her as she approaches her 47th birthday. Never really able to confront her emotions, she is a freerunner and uses that as an escape and a way of taking control over things she thinks she can’t control. Her partner Ruth is used to her ways, but still wishes she could open up more – she wants a little bit of normal in their life.

When Sydney takes herself off to a place that means so much, she is faced with new people and new outlooks. But still she can’t escape the past and you are very aware of the hold it has over all of her family and it was heartbreaking to read her thoughts as she remembered family holidays.

I loved the way the interconnecting stories flowed – from Belle the quiet soul who works in the local bookshop and hides herself away in routine and books, to Maria who wants to rescue the ‘angel’ she finds but seems unable to rescue herself. And I also loved the perspective of Stuart the dog – the family pet of Maria, Jon and Belle – it was just so cleverly written and very perceptive to have his thoughts on what was going on with his humans.

As Sydney, her father and her partner are made to face up to what happened in the past, it was really emotional to keep having their flashbacks and thoughts and to see how their prescence in this place is helping to shift the minds of the people they meet. It was so refreshing to read the different characters with such different outlooks on life – their hopes, their fears and the expectations you place on yourself and those around you.

Quirky, insightful and moving! Highly recommended!

★★★★
My thanks to the team at Tinder Press for my advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview One Minute Later by Susan Lewis

About the book

The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author, Susan Lewis.


It’s takes one minute to change everything…


Vivienne Shager has it all. A highflying job. A beautiful apartment. Friends whose lives are as perfect as her own. But on the afternoon of her 27th birthday, Vivi has a heart attack.


Now Vivi’s life shrinks back to how it begun, as she moves back to the small seaside town she grew up in. With her time running out, there is one thing she wants to know the truth about.


Some secrets are best left in the past…


Thirty years earlier, Shelley’s family home, Deerwood farm, bursts full of love and happiness. But one family member has hidden a secret for all these years. Until Vivi comes home demanding answers, and it takes just a moment to unravel the lie at their heart of their lives…

Published by HarperCollins

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I read this via The Pigeonhole app.

This was an engaging and thought provoking read as it looks at the question of organ donation, and how the wait can affect the patients and those around them, alongside a story of family drama and what happens when the truth comes out after years of feeling aggrieved at not knowing the full story.

Vivienne is a high flying lawyer with the whole world at her feet – until she collapses on her 27th birthday and her life then flips 180 and she is left to ponder what is really important to her, while trying to stay positive in the hope of receiving a heart transplant.

Alongside the story of Vivi, we also go back in time to the story of Jack and Shelley who lived on a farm and had the perfect family life – or so it seemed. Trouble with the neighbours sparks off a number of disputes and when tragedy strikes it rocks the family to their core.

The paths of the stories soon cross and it all becomes clearer as to why the stories are being told in the way that they are. I did feel at times it took a little too long to get to the point and often got too bogged down in trivial little things when there were bigger issues to be dealt with.

The last third of the book was where the point of the story got going and it is obvious how passionate the author feels about the importance of Organ Donor registration as this came through very clearly in the story and how it affected Vivi and her family. An enjoyable read

🌟🌟🌟

#BookReview The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

About the book

An astonishing, deeply moving novel about the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an elderly woman guarding her long buried past.

It seems like just another night shift for Lucy, an overworked ER physician in Providence, Rhode Island, until six-year-old Ben is brought in as the sole survivor from a horrifying crime scene. He’s traumatized and wordless; everything he knows has been taken from him in an afternoon. It’s not clear what he saw, or what he remembers.

Lucy, who’s grappling with a personal upheaval of her own, feels a profound, unexpected connection to the little boy. She wants to help him…but will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Across town, Clare will soon be turning one hundred years old. She has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, but a surprising encounter makes her realize that the time has come to tell her story.

As Ben, Lucy, and Clare struggle to confront the events that shattered their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together.

An expertly stitched story that spans nearly a century—from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present—The Possible World is a captivating novel about the complicated ways our pasts shape our identities, the power of maternal love, the loneliness born out of loss, and how timeless bonds can help us triumph over grief.

Published by Hutchinson

Out now

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I was lucky to read this via The Pigeonhole app, which sends a small chunk of a new/soon to be published book via your phone/tablet on a daily basis, and you have 24 hours in which to read each new stave.  And what a book this was to read that way!! Wow!

This is the story of Ben, Lucy and Clare. Three amazing characters all living very different lives until a shocking incident connects them all and brings their worlds much closer together. It was an absolutely stunning book to read and am very grateful to The Pigeonhole app – and the author! – for allowing me to welcome these characters in to my life!

Ben is just 6 years old and is witness to a most brutal tragedy that takes away his mother. How he deals with that is to shut down and becomes ‘Leo’. This is who Lucy meets as she works at the trauma unit at the local hospital. His story really breaks her heart, and allows her a little distance from her life and work which is beating her down. She wants to help this little boy but that is proving more and more difficult with his reluctance to open up.

And Clare is a seemingly forgotten woman in a care home. She has all her marbles but is reluctant herself to join in and open up to the other residents so is seen as distant and grumpy. When she does begin to tell her story it is one that shocks and touches your heart. Especially how it links in to the story of Ben and Lucy.

I just adored this book from start to finish! It is written so beautifully and each character stole my heart away! Wonderfully compelling and a must read!!

                                                                   🐦🐦🐦🐦🐦

Midwinter by Fiona Melrose #bookreview

THE BLURB

Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business.


But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now.

Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals – and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection.

Alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame and lost opportunities. Ultimately it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.

 
Publisher;  Corsair
 
Author Website;  https://fionamelrose.com/
 
Quick Links to Buy;
 
 
 
 
 
 
MY REVIEW
 
This is a stunning looking book and one of those stories that slowly creeps into your soul as you watch over these 2 men who are struggling to come to terms with grief and the loss they both feel.

The father and son aspect worked really well as the story tells of how they both deal – not very well! – in their lives with so many emotions bubbling up after the loss of their loved one. They’ve tried to avoid their feelings over the years and it reaches a point where their relationship is suffering as they both take their anger out on the wrong people.

Not only are they struggling with their personal lives, but they’re struggling in their work lives too on the farm and this book really captures the hard times they both face and how they need to confront the sadness and work together to keep a hold of their lives and sanity.

I found this took a little while to get into but once I’d learnt more of the characters I was soon under the spell and it was often a brutal but heart wrenching read made more fascinating by the emotions of men, not used to sharing their feelings, being explored. 

 
Stunning and beautifully written read.