#BookReview THE MATING OF STAGS by RAY ROBINSON

ABOUT THE BOOK

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door? As beauty and tenderness blend with violence, this story transports us to a different world, subtly exploring love and loss in a language that both bruises and heals.

PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

publisher website

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s 

MY REVIEW

this was a stark, often despairing but beautifully written story exploring the thoughts of grief and loneliness as we follow Jake on the run – not normal for a man in his seventies, but as his story unfolds we see the moments that lead to this and it is such a powerful exploration of how humans deal with situations they find themselves in, and how they and the people closest to them deal with the consequences.

Jake is a man missing his wife, Edith. But he finds friendship with Sheila and they find comfort in each others company as Sheila is dealing with her own family issues and disappointments, so when Jake goes on the run she is left contemplating their friendship and waiting to hear from him.

And while Jake is on the run, finding new places to hide and hoping his actions don’t catch up with him, we get flashbacks of his life – his marriage to Edith is the main feature – and he’s left alone with his memories both good and bad which isn’t always the best for his mental state.

I loved the difference in the two characters in the lives they had lead but how they were drawn to one another and how they just clicked. At only 220 pages long, this is a book that has a powerful impact on you as a reader as the characters are written with such clarity and full of flaws, but those make the characters easier to relate to. We’ve all been disappointed by people in our lives, as have Jack and Sheila, and it’s that impact on how their lives turn out because of the actions of others that we are witnessing throughout this story. Their reactions, their anger, frustrations – laid bare for us all to see.

It’s one of those books that is gripping, unsettling, heartbreaking and intense and I loved every single blooming page of it! Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BookReview WILD SPINNING GIRLS by CAROL LOVEKIN

ABOUT THE BOOK

If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.


And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left..


It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

PUBLISHED BY  HONNO

PURCHASE LINKS

HONNO SHOP
HIVE.CO.UK
WATERSTONES
WHSMITH

MY REVIEW

This was a haunting and spellbinding read that I savoured from start to finish. It’s a story of grief,the damage secrets can create in a family and was just beautifully written and I was loathed to finish the last page as I didn’t want it to end.

It’s a story of complicated family relationships – Ida is travelling back to Wales to the family home after the loss of her parents, and trying to deal with the emotions of returning to a place where she remembers her mother being very unhappy, whilst trying to deal with her own grief and feeling so alone. Her isolation is disturbed by the appearance of Heather, who is the daughter of the previous tenant, and still sees the house as her own home and a connection to the memories she shared there with her mother.

Both women are very different characters and this causes a clash immediately, and it was absolutely fascinating to see how they both dealt with the grief they’re suffering. While one seems to gain strength from it, the other seems to falter as the more she discovers about the past is revealed.

The house itself plays a big part in the storyline, with its’ setting and the importance it played in these people’s life. They say ‘if walls had ears’ and this house has seen lots going on in the past that it seems that it wants to share what it knows with these 2 women.

As the stories of the past unfold, Ida and Heather are discovering new things about the history they thought they knew and I loved the pace of secrets being uncovered. Ida, in particular, seems scared of her own shadow at times and you wonder where that distrust has come from. Heather seems a much calmer and self assured character and tries to teach Ida about the ways of the earth – making peace with what is around you to find peace yourself.

This was a book that touches your soul and I adored it! Highly recommended!!


★★★★★

#BookReview THE ICE PALACE by TARJEI VESAAS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The schoolchildren call it the Ice Palace: a frozen waterfall in the Norwegian fjords transformed into a fantastic structure of translucent walls, sparkling towers and secret chambers. It fascinates two young girls, lonely Unn and lively Siss, who strike up an intense friendship. When Unn decides to explore the Ice Palace alone and doesn’t return, Siss must try to cope with the loss of her friend without succumbing to a frozen world of her own making. 

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

This was the December book club pick for the GoodReads Group – Readalongs With Karen.

A hypnotic and haunting little book that centres around the friendship between 2 girls – very different in life experiences, but very similar in looks and feelings and how the loss of one impacts on the other.

The girls meet at school – Unn is the new girl who is lonely but there’s just something about her that fascinates Siss and they become inseparable immediately. But one day Unn doesn’t come to school and goes missing, and what follows is the story of the search for and the realisation for Siss that she’s bereft without her friend.

It really captures the isolation of grief – the utter despondency that she feels and how she thinks that nobody around her understands her feelings. Unn’s aunt provides some connection for Siss to the past and watching her trying to reach out and get Siss to open up is really touching.

It’s a short book that really makes an impact on you as a reader – it explores that spark that connects people and how even spending just a short time with them can leave such a massive hole in your life and just how important it is to have people around to make you see they are there to support you. 

★★★★

#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.

#BlogTour The Power of Dog by Andrew Marshall #BookReview

                                          ‘Wonderfully comforting’ Guardian

On the eve of the millennium, the life of therapist and best-selling self-help author Andrew Marshall was in a dark place. Despite trying three different therapists, counselling had not shifted the grief from the death of his much-loved partner, his career as journalist had reached a dead end and he was struggling with low-level depression. So Andrew sought an alternative solution in the form of Flash the puppy.

In this funny and moving memoir, he chronicles not only the ups and downs of training an excitable puppy, but how Flash helped Andrew to laugh again and finally heal old wounds.

 

Published 12th July 2018

Publisher Red Door Publishing

 

About the Author

Andrew Marshall has written seventeen self-help books – as Andrew G. Marshall – including the international best-seller I love you but I’m not in love with you. His work has been translated into twenty different languages and he still writes for the Mail on SundayDaily Mail and Daily Telegraph. This is the first time he’s written about himself.

 

MY REVIEW

As a pet owner myself, I know of the huge impact that even the smallest animal can have on your life. And in this book the author shows only too well of how they can heal a broken heart.  After the devastating death of his partner, Andrew was feeling very lost and lonely and wasn’t coping well coming home to an empty home.  As a child he’d always dreamed of owing a dog, but his parents never felt it was the ‘right time’ and after spending some time dog sitting for a friend he decided to take the plunge and get a puppy – meet Flash! He then writes a diary of his life as a pet owner!

I loved the honesty of his writing and also he writes with such affection that you feel you are going through the early days of puppy training with him! It is clear that he adores Flash and cherishes all their time together, but he also isn’t afraid of sharing the  moments when it doesn’t all go to plan – house training is a particular issue that takes a while to get right!

It also looks back on his time with his partner and how he’s dealing with the grief he still feels.  Having also read My Mourning Year, which chronicles his life with Thom, dealing with his illness and death and how he deals – or doesn’t! – with the grieving process – this follow up gives a great insight into his life and how he’s moving on.

This was such an easy book to read and so easy to relate to.  It explores that bond between owners and their pets, how it opens up new avenues and opportunities for meeting new people and even helps bring people back into your life.  He learns so much from his life as a dog owner and I think as a pet owner in general you tend to see things from a different perspective.

I had tears in my eyes by the end as it sensitively deals with the time that every pet owner dreads of doing what is right for the pet, even if you aren’t ready yourself and I found reading this book to be a very positive and rewarding experience!

🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶

Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour for more reviews, excerpts and information about this memorable book!

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.