20BookOfSummer2022 THE EIGHTH GIRL by MAXINE MEI-FUNG CHUNG #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

One woman, multiple personas.

But which one is telling the truth?

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM MORROW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Dark. Intoxicating. Twisty. Gripping. …. blooming brilliant!! Fair to say that I loved this one and it was one of those stories that just kept me sat on my chair for ages at a time, often holding my breath wondering where the plots would take me next!! And they often took me to very dark places through the character of Alexa, and I loved every single minute of it!

Alexa has multiple personalities – I was a little worried how this would play out as a story, but the author has done a brilliant job of mixing them all so well, and allowing each ‘personality’ to share little glimpses into their world, while Alexa gets on with her often complicated life. And what a story she has to tell! When her best friend gets in trouble she finds herself going along for the ride, and the world she finds herself involved in is a very dark and scary place, involving the trafficking of young girls and sex work.

And we also get the POV of Daniel, her therapist, who is dealing with his own issues and watching her open up to him is very revealing and allows us to see the start of her problems from a very abusive childhood and constantly looking for ‘love’ and approval from people as she missed out on that. The world she finds herself becoming trapped in is full of other young girls who seem to be searching out for that too and it’s sad to see them mistaking sex for love, and the promise of security and money.

The twists and turns are perfectly played out and they got me good!! I always love a story that shocks and surprises and that is exactly what this did to me! A brilliant book that I cannot recommend highly enough!!

★★★★★

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BookReview SOULJOURNER by PAUL STEVEN STONE #20BooksOfSummer2022

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Souljourner is a cult-classic in the making. It is by turns bizarre, bewildering, hilarious, infuriating and utterly engaging – strap yourself in and prepare to be swept up in this extraordinary karmic rollercoaster of a book.”

Where to start with Souljourner?

Let’s start with the author – Paul Steven Stone is either a madman or a genius – probably both – and he’s written one of the most gripping and enjoyable books we’ve ever come across.

It begins with a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey, we are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

– and that my friends sets the tone for everything that’s to come.

David Rockwood Worthington is in prison serving a life sentence for the murder of his 3rd wife and his incarceration is not going smoothly.

He’s being terrorised by rival gangs who insist he owes them each $6 million dollars – debts of which David claims to be entirely unaware. This perilous situation is complicated by the fact that the Internal Revenue Service wants to talk to him about the $18 million dollars he has stashed in secret Cayman Island accounts – accounts which David also claims to be entirely unaware of.

On top of all that, his prison psychologist doesn’t seem to like him very much.

The central premise of this novel – if it is indeed a novel (the narrator insists it is in fact a warning letter from your soul’s previous incarnation) – is that our souls make their eternal journey towards enlightenment in the company of a single unchanging ‘karmic pod’ of companion souls who take on different roles in each of our incarnations.

In one life a soul may appear as your mother, in the next your best friend, in the next your sworn enemy, in the next your lover and so on for eternity.

The identities of the souls in your ‘karmic pod’ are hidden from you in life – this letter/novel seeks to wise you up to who’s who in your karmic pod to help you avoid making the same mistakes that landed our David in prison.

PUBLISHED BY FAHRENHEIT PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is book 9 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

If you’re looking for a book that excites and takes you off on all different tangents, then look no further!! I found this to be a fabulously quirky read, that looks into the roles of ‘karma’ and unreliable narrators and it took me to places I still don’t think I’ve arrived back from!!

David is a the heart of the story – in jail for murdering his 3rd wife – and being targeted by gangs for money they claim he owes them, while also being investigated by the IRS about the millions they claim he’s hiding from them…. he swears he knows nothing about any money! Do we dare believe a ‘murderer’?!

The narration is top notch – you’re being ‘chatted’ to and on the premise that you are here reading this book for a reason – fate has bought this book into your life at this time for a reason! And that begins the journey of looking into reincarnations and all things happening for a reason to bring you to certain points in your life. Is it payback for sins committed in a previous life?

With David being in jail, he has plenty of time on his hands to think and that starts his look back over the people and circumstances in his life that leads him to this point, and I loved that conflict he finds himself in as he tries to make sense of it all.

We also hear the viewpoint of Dr Robert who is interviewing David, and gets him to open up more about relationships and to try and explain why he has blackouts and no memories of the events that led him to jail. And there are interjections from his dead wives, adding their take on matters, and what you’re left with is a mash up of conflicts and confusion!

Added to the mix are plenty of Beatles mentions that had me reaching for a Beatles playlist, and a shock ending that caught me off guard!! Can’t wait to go back and read this one again to enjoy the creativity and karmic madness!! Fabulous!

★★★★★ 

#BookReview THE MOVEMENT by AYISHA MALIK #TheMovement @headlinepg

ABOUT THE BOOK

With words come power. But do you speak out or shut up?

Everywhere Sara Javed goes – online or outside – everyone is shouting about something. Couldn’t they all just shut up? One day she takes her own advice.

At first people don’t understand her silence and are politely confused at best. But the last thing Sara could anticipate is becoming the figurehead of a global movement that splits society in two.

The Silent Movement sparks outrage in its opposers. Global structures start to shift. And the lives of those closest to Sara – as well as strangers inspired by her act – begin to unravel.

It’s time for the world to reconsider what it means to have a voice.

A sharply observed novel, charged with compassion and dark wit, that will spark important conversations about how we live, relate and communicate now

.PUBLISHED BY REVIEW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

Wow!! This has gone straight into my favourite books of 2022!! This is one of those books that is perfect for the times we are living in as it balances out so many pros and cons of this ever increasingly loud world that we live in nowadays. Once I’d started this book I just couldn’t put it down!

Sara is a successful author, but she’s sick of the shouty world she finds herself living in. People jostling for their opinions to be heard and shared online and IRL – something I think we can all relate to! – so she does the unthinkable and takes a vow of silence. Much to the disgust of her Publishers who want her to accept awards, make speeches etc about her book. So The Silent Movement begins and her silence gets the world talking, and makes a lot of people worry.

Two women she inspires, Grace and Zainab, then share their stories of their journey into the Silent Movement and I loved seeing different perspectives of other characters and the dialogue it sparks between people. Women have fought so hard to have a voice so is the actions of people joining this movement, undermining all that women fought for?! Or is there more power in silence?

The story is told over a number of years and follows these women on their different paths and the reactions over the world are quite staggering. A lot of powerful people are worried, and the parallels with how we found ourselves living fairly recently with strict guidelines really struck home with me. The governments try banning the movement, the resistance grows – it throws up so many moral questions that you will find yourself for and against it at some point as you read!

it also throws out the dilemma that are some people just making noise for the sake of it? By people being quiet they find themselves with more time to think, and deleting social media also makes them happier individuals…. so very true of our reality now!

This is an epic book that centres on the right to choose, something also very central to the world of today. This is a book that made me think so much about what I say, how to say it and how our actions can impact so much, especially around the subject of feminism and women’s rights. A staggering book that needs to be read by all!! Go buy it!! Thank me, silently, later!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE LITTLE HOUSE BY THE SEA by TRACY REES

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bluebells bob in the salty sea wind and the cottage gate swings open to reveal the inky-blue cove. It’s exactly how Kitty always pictured it… except in her head, she wasn’t standing here alone.

Kitty Roberts spends her days searching for the perfect home for two… until her boyfriend dumps her. Devastated, she flees to a tiny seaside village called Pennystrand, where she spent golden summers as a child, before her family fell apart.

At first, Kitty’s dramatic escape proves to be exactly what she needs – golden sunsets over warm, sandy beaches, lovably eccentric new neighbours and even a blush-inducing run-in with Cory Hudson, a floppy-haired local surfer with a heart-stopping smile.

But just as Kitty feels herself beginning to heal, Cory reveals that his time in Pennystrand is nearly up. What’s more, some strange reactions to Kitty in town make her wonder if her connection to this place might go deeper than she thought.

What is this tranquil little village hiding? It seems there’s a secret in Kitty’s past that is about to turn her life on its head once more… Is she ready for the truth? And will it bring her and Cory closer together, or drive them apart?

A page-turning story full of unexpected twists and turns. It will make you smile, laugh and wish you could visit Pennystrand! Absolutely perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Heidi Swain and Carole Matthews.

PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE

PUBLICATION DATE – 24TH AUGUST 2022

PRE-ORDER LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

Loved Loved Loved!! This is one of those books that puts a smile on your face and warms your heart! And it was just a wonderful treat to read in the sunshine – and to know that you’re not alone in being someone who searches estate agents looking and dreaming of that perfect life away from it all!

Kitty is the main character in this book and she’s looking for something but she’s not sure what! Her happy times are spent in estate agents looking for a dream house, away from the noise and bustle of London – her other half Mitch doesn’t share that dream but fate soon finds a way for her to follow her own path!!

So she finds herself moving to Wales to reassess her life, in a place where she has happy memories from her childhood and with her family. She finds a lovely spot to stay with a nice landlady, and soon finds herself at the heart of the village, trying to make new friends and find a new way of life.

I loved how she threw herself into her new life, and how new doors, literally!, opened up for her! There was lots of fun banter and the introduction of Cory really spices things up and their relationship was just perfect! There’s also a little mystery thrown in, along with some shocking family secrets and I just loved how the story evolved and didn’t want it to end! Home truly is where the heart is!!

★★★★★

#BookReview BLUE HOUR by SARAH SCHMIDT @headlinepg @Emily_JP #BlueHour

ABOUT THE BOOK

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe. We never have to come back here.’ She eyes the rearview mirror, keeps a look out for headlights, keeps a look out for him.

As dawn breaks over sleeping houses, Eleanor straps her infant daughter Amy, into the back of her car. Together they will escape the private hell of Eleanor’s marriage to make the drive to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood. Can she be sure that her husband, Braun, is not on their trail?

As the car eats up the long miles of highway, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into the depths of her childhood, and into her fraught relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty a woman who wanted so much, in marriage and in love. Kitty who always tried to hard to bend Eleanor, her brother and her father, to her image of the perfect family.

In her masterful second book, Sarah Schmidt, acclaimed author of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE? reworks the classic road novel to tense, devastating, and ultimately redemptive effect.

PUBLISHED BY HEADLINE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This was an exquisite read. Often troubling, very dark and unflinching in the way it explores relationships, it is a story that grips you from page one and still has a hold on you long after you close the book up after finishing it.

It’s the story of a family over different generations – starting with the dramatic story of Eleanor who is leaving with her daughter Amy, walking away from her marriage, to escape to blue mountain where she has the strongest memories from her childhood. It was her refuge and you notice that nature is always her ‘get out’ at the most troublesome of times and that leads the story to take us back to her mother and father, cleverly switching between the 1970’s and the 1940’s.

The story of Kitty is another shocking aspect of this book. It tells of a troubled relationship with Eleanors’ father and how the times shaped their lives. Her life was always focussed on getting away from her parents, so she became a nurse tending to returning soldiers and it’s here she meets George and quickly falls in love. But they’re young and their passion soon fizzles out but she feels obligated to be with him – it seems to become her duty to take care of him when he returns a shell of his former self, dealing with his mood swings and she is pregnant too.

What follows is an exploration of those expectations of what life is – the reality of motherhood, the impact of mental illness on those around, and trying to make sense of it all and trying not to let history repeat itself. Noticing those signs and trying to change the course of your life, but then walking that same path allows her to understand what really was going on back in her childhood that she missed seeing.

This is a brutal book at times, it shares some explicit scenes as the author isn’t afraid to confront the worst of human relationships – the lengths people go to for love and the fine line between that and control. You get that sense of ownership, be it of a parent over a child, or a lover over a partner, and how dark and soul destroying that impacts on the people involved.

There is so much hurt in this family that your heart just breaks as you read their stories. There’s tragedy throughout and it can make this a very disturbing read at times, but it just lays bare the realities and complexities that humans face, and how that shapes them in their journey and future relationships.

There are shocking revelations littered throughout which just adds to the emotional impact of this story, but it is a staggering piece of work and although it may break you at times as it did me, it is one of those powerful stories that you feel honoured to have read. Stunning! 

★★★★★

My thanks to Emily Patience and Headline Books for the advance copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview SUMMER AT SEASPRAY COTTAGE by ANGELA BRITNELL

ABOUT THE BOOK

What would you do if you inherited a Cornish cottage by the sea?

If you’re Thea Armitage, sell it as soon as possible. Whilst there’s no denying that Seaspray Cottage has its charm, it just holds too many bad memories for Thea to consider keeping it – although at least spending the summer preparing it for sale gives her a distraction from troubles back home in Tennessee.

What Thea didn’t count on was her worst Cornish memory moving in right next door. Local bad boy Harry Venton played no small part in Thea’s decision never to return to Cornwall twenty years before – and now he’s her neighbour! Could things get any worse?

Except Harry isn’t the boy he was, and as Thea comes to realise that her opinion of him was built on lies and misunderstandings, perhaps things will start looking up for her summer at Seaspray Cottage.

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: Summer at Seaspray Cottage: An uplifting, feel-good summer romance! eBook : Britnell, Angela: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/summer-at-seaspray-cottage/id6442943846?uo=4&ls=1&at=1l3vpUI&ct=kgsztl%7Cchoc-lit.com

Kobo: Summer at Seaspray Cottage eBook by Angela Britnell – 9781781891179 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Google: Summer at Seaspray Cottage – Angela Britnell – Google Books

Nook: Summer at Seaspray Cottage by Angela Britnell | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

MY REVIEW

This was just delicious!! It’s one of those books that you just totally lose yourself in and start packing up your belongings so you can move to the location featured – and hope to bump into someone like Harry!!

The story centres around Thea and her return to an area she was desperate to get away from in her youth. She inherits a cornish cottage by the sea, idyllic for most people, but her plan is to sell it ASAP!

On her return she reconnects with her friend Kelsey, and also Harry, who was the main reason she left 20 years ago. He’s not liked by many of the locals, but had a tough upbringing and Thea knows him better than others so she’s always willing to fight his corner, despite their relationship ending on a bad note. But time is a healer eh, and now they’re all grown up maybe there is peace to be had and old feelings to explore!!

This is all about making peace with the past, and the more time she spends in the area, the more she grows and understands she’s right where she needs to be, despite her father back home in Tennesse wanting her to take the promotion he has offered her. There’s a lot about family relationships as there are many issues to sort out between various characters, and I really enjoyed seeing how they worked through their problems.

This is a story full of sexy seaside summer shenanigans!! I loved how the characters were mature about the more serious issues they were faced with and weren’t afraid to confront their feelings and see things from a different perspective! Now I just need to find a Harry of my own!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE COTTAGE ON WINTER MOSS by ALLIE CRESSWELL

ABOUT THE BOOK

Burned-out author Dee needs fresh inspiration. Impetuously, she abandons London and her good-for-nothing boyfriend to go wherever her literary quest takes her. Journey’s end is a remote village on the shores of a wild estuary, overshadowed by a ruined pele tower. She rents Winter Cottage and waits for a story to emerge.

The bleak beauty of the whispering dunes, the jacquard of colour and texture of the marsh and a romantic tree in a secluded glade—The Trysting Tree—all seduce Dee. Nevertheless, the secretive behaviour of a handsome neighbour, lights across the marsh, a spurious squire and a bizarre, moonlit encounter all suggest there is something odd afoot.

Local gossip and crumbling graveyard inscriptions give Dee the opening she needs. She begins to weave hints about the tragic history of a local family, feuding brothers and a fatal fire into a sweeping historical saga. Her characters clamour for a voice as the tale spools effortlessly onto the page—demanding to be told. Dee feels more like its instrument than its instigator.

As she becomes enmeshed in the local community, Dee is startled to find her fiction unnervingly confirmed by fact, her history still resonating in the present-day.
Is she being guided by echoes of the past?

PUBLISHED BY ALLIE CRESSWELL LIMITED

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

Another stunningly beautiful book from Allie Cresswell! The settings and characters quickly get under your skin and the story just absorbs you, which means it’s very difficult to put down as you just want to keep on reading!!

The author in the story, Dee, has faced highs and lows in a very short space of time and now needs time to recharge and refocus. So she travels to the back of beyond for that time and soon finds herself under the spell of the local area, and all those who live there. The more she uncovers from the local gossips, the more it inspires her to write her new book about characters of the past, and it almost begins to feel like she is experiencing their story herself.

With a dual timeline, we get to read the story she creates and it centres around Todd, who lived in the village from the turn of the century and life was hard, especially on the farm where he had to work from a very young age. What follows on is a very dramatic life with sibling rivalry, unrequited love – really emotional goings on, both then and in the now as Dee learns more about her neighbour and his father.

I loved this story. There is so much to take on but you feel part of these characters lives as you see them unfold, amidst scandal and unresolved resentments with emotions being bottled up, and taken out in the wrong circumstances and towards the wrong people.

Emotional, evocative and a pure joy from first page to last!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL #BookReview @rararesources @ChrisPenhall

Delighted to be with you today on the latest stop of the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL.

My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!


Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.


But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?


PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

PURCHASE LINKS

Kindle: The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve (Portuguese Paradise Book 3) eBook : Penhall, Chris: Amazon.co.uk: Books

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-house-on-the-hill/id1624491748?

Kobo: The House on the Hill eBook by Chris Penhall – 9781912550739 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Chris_Penhall_The_House_on_the_Hill?id=5EVxEAAAQBAJ&gl=GB

Nook: The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve by Chris Penhall | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.

She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Social Media Links – 

www.chrispenhall.co.uk  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisPenhall 

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisPenhallBroadcasterWriter 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christinepenhall/ 

MY REVIEW

The latest in the Portugese Paradise – but easily read as a standalone – and it’s a Summer treat that transports you to the Algarve and puts a smile on your face as you watch over Layla and her struggles with keeping calm…. you’d think that would be easy for her as she runs a mindfulness retreat, but a blast from the past brings back some of her old anxiety so she’s in need of yoga and calm now more than ever!

Layla is a woman who is very business minded. Very little time for the little pleasures in life, she is focussed on keeping her grandparents legacy alive with the thriving business in such an idyllic location.  And when she’s set the task of ‘babysitting’ and ‘destressing’ a friend of a friend, her own anxieties resurface as he’s a face she remembers from her past… whether he remembers her is another matter!

Luke is a famous author and is escaping the drama of the media back in the UK, and also looking for quiet and inspiration for his latest work project.  What better than the Algarve to get away from it all.  He is reliant on Layla to give him those mindful breaks he needs to get the creative juices flowing, and he finds that spending time with her is giving him lots of things to think about – and wish she’d lighten up a little too!

As always, the setting is just wonderful for these books and the characters are well crafted and instantly pull you on their side so you want nothing but happiness for them all!  Lots of fun and drama along the way make for a wonderful reading experience!

★★★★★

#BookReview ACTS OF LOVE AND WAR by MAGGIE BROOKES

ABOUT THE BOOK

1936. Civil war in Spain. A world on the brink of chaos . . .

21-year-old Lucy feels content with her life in Hertfordshire – not least because she lives next door to Tom and Jamie, two very different brothers for whom she has equally great affection.

But her comfortable life is turned upside down when Tom decides he must travel to Spain to fight for the Democratic party in the bloody Spanish Civil War. He is quickly followed by Jamie who, much to Lucy’s despair, is supporting General Franco and his Fascist party.

To the dismay of her irascible father, Lucy decides that the only way to bring her boys back safely is to travel to Spain herself to persuade them to come home.

Yet when she sees the horrific effects of the war, she quickly becomes immersed in the lifesaving work the Quakers are doing to help the civilian population, many of whom are refugees.

As the war progresses and the situation becomes increasingly perilous, Lucy realises that the challenge going forward is not so much which brother she will end up with, but whether any of them will survive the carnage long enough to decide . . .

PUBLISHED BY CENTURY

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Wow! This was a book that put me through a whole range of emotions!! A brilliant piece of historical writing that gives you a real feel for the turmoil of the times, and how that impacted on people.

Set around the Spanish Civil War, we are introduced to 21 year old Lucy who lives a very restricted life in Hertfordshire. And next door live 2 brothers, both in love with her, and all good friends but dealing with the emotions of growing up. When they read newspaper reports of unrest in Spain, first Tom goes to Spain to fight, followed soon after by Jamie – but for different sides. And that shows just how much this war split family and friends, something I’d not considered with my limited knowledge of the Civil War in Spain.

Lucy then finds herself wanting to do something to help, so she travels to join the Quakers as her caring attitude, and experience as a teacher, puts her in a great position to do something positive. But her main aim is to get the brothers home and safely. Throughout the war she receives letters from both brothers and I found this to be a really clever way of conveying their personal feelings, alongside that of frontline reports of what was happening and the things they were having to face and deal with.

What follows is a real rollercoaster of life during wartime – you cannot help but become so involved with these characters and willing there to be a happy ending, but knowing there will most likely be sadness and the dangerous situations people will put themselves in to help others is inspiring.

A story and characters that will stay with me for some time to come! Wonderful written and a story that really shows the human impact of war.

★★★★★

#BlogTour STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA @renardpress @ReshmaRuia #BookReview

Hello! Delighted to be with you today as part of the wonderful Blog Tour for the equally wonderful STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA.  My thanks to the author and the team at Renard Press for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The glow of my cigarette picks out a dark shape lying on the ground. I bend down to take a closer look. It’s a dead sparrow. I wondered if I had become that bird, disoriented and lost.

Young, handsome and contemptuous of his father’s traditional ways, PK Malik leaves Bombay to start a new life in America. Stopping in Manchester to visit an old friend, he thinks he sees a business opportunity, and decides to stay on. Now fifty-five, PK has fallen out of love with life. His business is struggling and his wife Geeta is lonely, pining for the India she’s left behind.

One day PK crosses the path of Esther, the wife of his business competitor, and they launch into an affair conducted in shabby hotel rooms, with the fear of discovery forever hanging in the air. Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity.

Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reshma Ruia is an award-winning author and poet. Her first novel was described in the Sunday Times as ‘a gem of straight-faced comedy’. She has published a poetry collection and a short story collection; her work has appeared in international anthologies and journals, and she has had work commissioned by the BBC. She is the co-founder of The Whole Kahani – a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Born in India and brought up in Rome, her writing explores the preoccupations of those who possess a multiple sense of belonging.

MY REVIEW

I found this to be an emotional, often gut wrenching, story that looks at the impact of decisions you make and the impact they have on you and those around you – with often devastating consequences.  It’s one of those books that you get so caught up in from the beginning and it’s tough to let the characters go when the final page arrives.  I’m still thinking about them now!!

PK is a man out to live life ‘his’ way and not his fathers way.  And that journey takes him from India to Manchester where he finds himself living a life he doesn’t know he wants anymore.  Business brought him success, a wife and family, but he’s reached that age where he doesn’t know what is next and nothing excites him… until he meets the wife of a rival and that ignites his passion again.

Told from the perspective of PK you really get inside his mind, and what also works so well are the letters we get to read written by his wife – seeing life from her viewpoint really adds to the drama and reality of it all.  She notices the changes in her husband but she finds it easier to discuss things in a letter with someone else, than to confront her husband and talk over their problems.  You really get that head in the sand feeling about their relationship and despite the unhappiness they are unwilling to sit down and talk things over.

The story really takes you on a real emotional rollercoaster and that is down to how well the characters are written and developed along the way.  Showing the frailty of human behaviours and how things can change so quickly allows you to connect on a personal level  as they ponder the same questions we all do in life.  

A story that packs a real punch – loved it!!

★★★★★