#BookReview Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley

ABOUT THE BOOK

For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley – one half of one of the most famous bands in the world – tells the inside story of Wham! and his life-long friendship with George Michael.

It is 1975, Watford, and two teenagers, George and Andrew, meet for the first time. Bonding over their love for singing, song writing and pop music, together they set out to follow an impossible dream.

They didn’t know it then, but they were taking their first steps towards forming Wham!, a band that was to become one of the biggest in the world.

Wham! were the soundtrack of the 80s; whether it was choosing life or Live Aid, the decade of flamboyance and fun was a party that seemed like it would never end. But it had to stop somewhere – and that was in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

In Wham! George and Me, Andrew Ridgeley tells the story of Wham! – from the day they met to that iconic final concert. For the first time, he reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George. It’s a story only he can tell.

PURCHASE LINKS

Waterstones – signed edition £20

hive.co.uk  £12.69

amazon £10.00

MY REVIEW

A fascinating and emotional memoir from Andrew Ridgeley as he looks back on his friendship with George Michael, and all the pivotal moments from an amazing career that brought back so many amazing memories for me as a fan and gave an enthralling insight into life as a popstar!

From the moment they met at school, there seemed to be a connection between Andrew and George and I loved seeing him recall those times as their friendship blossomed despite the fact that they were both very different personalities,and how their families reacted to their wishes to be part of a band! There’s a great use of photos, many of which I’d never seen before, and it was lovely to see a different side to them, other than the images that became so famous in magazines and on posters – many of which I had on my bedroom walls!

I loved hearing how classic songs came to be, the whole experience of fame and the music business of the time, and how the press attention became such a blight to them both. Considering Wham were only a band for such a short space of time it was amazing the impact their music made around the world, and in reading this book it’s made me more aware of the 2 young men behind the ‘Choose Life’ t-shirts!

There are mentions of Georges’ sexuality and how he dealt with it amongst his friends, and how he struggled with his identity throughout his life, but I think it was all delicately and respectfully dealt with by Andrew. An emotional read but a brilliant look back

★★★★★

#BookReview FINDING HENRY APPLEBEE by CELIA REYNOLDS

ABOUT THE BOOK

Here Henry was, once again in a bustling train station, ready to resume where he had left off all those years ago…

Finding Henry Applebee is a charming, tender and uplifting story about unlikely friendships, the power of love – and how it’s never too late to change your life. Perfect for fans of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Eighty-five-year-old Henry Arthur Applebee has had a pretty good life. But one regret has haunted him for the last sixty-five years.

And so, on an ordinary December morning, he boards a train from London to Edinburgh. His goal is simple: to find the woman who disappeared from his life decades earlier. But Henry isn’t the only person on a mission. Also bound for Edinburgh is troubled teen, Ariel. And when the two strangers collide, what began as one humble journey will catapult them both into a whole new world… 

PUBLISHED BY ONE MORE CHAPTER

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was a sweet and charming read, following the story of the loveable Henry Applebee as he sets out on a journey looking to find ghosts from his past, and wondering if the path he’s chosen to take is the right one! And this story really does show you how fate is destined to play a part – the world really does move in mysterious ways!

Henry and his dog Banjo lead a very simple life – he’s 85 and has led a good life but has regrets and they seem to be playing on his mind now more than ever. For him it’s now or never to find the answer to his questions so he sets out on a trip to Scotland, after his niece tracked down someone for him. She was supposed to go with him but had to cancel last minute, and at the train station a good samaritan, Ariel, helps him out when it looks like his journey might be over before it’s even started!

Ariel is also on her own personal journey with a mission to deliver an envelope personally to someone in Scotland. She’s just lost her mother and it was so important to her to pass this message on that she must get this done. Ariel is a real sweetheart and I really enjoyed seeing how her character dealt with all that life threw her way. When she and Henry end up travelling together they’re also introduced to Travis, an american musician, and the 3 of them make for an interesting combination as they share stories on the journey up.

The fascinating pasts of all the characters really help you as a reader gain an interest and connection with them all. They all seem a little unsure of whether the path they’ve chosen to take is the right one. The more you learn about them, the more you start to sense a connection between them as people. I also really enjoyed the way the story went back in time so that we could see Henry as a younger man, a soldier, who finds love in the Tower ballroom and the story of his romance with Francine is very sweet and touching.

A really enjoyable adventure!

★★★

#BlogTour THE HOUSE THAT ALICE BUILT by CHRIS PENHALL @rararesources @ChocLituk @RubyFiction

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE HOUSE THAT ALICE BUILT! My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!

Home is where the heart is … 

Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating. 

But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents. 

But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home. 

Purchase Links 

Amazon UK

Ruby Fiction

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Penhall is a freelance writer and radio producer.

Her book, The House That Alice Built, won the Choc-Lit Search for a Star Competition 2019. 

Born in South Wales, she has also lived near 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! She is now working on her second. 

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. 

Chris has two grown up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside. 

Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association. 

Social Media Links – 

Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

MY REVIEW

This was a wonderful read with a real feelgood factor!!  I can see why this story won the Search For a Star competition! It has all those elements that keep you as a reader rooting for the main character and cheering when everything falls into place!!

Alice is trudging through her life! Her work is miserable, her ex, Adam, is off round the world and she’s having zero fun! When her friend Kathy flies over from Portugal for a visit she pesters Alice to come and visit her but Alice seems so stuck in her ways that she’s reluctant to go, but things are about to change to leave her with no option but to get packing!! 

With the realisation that maybe it’s time to put herself first, Alice finds herself in Portugal to visit Kathy and ends up with a little house/cat sitting job to see her through this new little chapter in her life! What is she going to do with herself?! For someone who likes routine it takes a while to get used to the change, but with the advice of ‘go with the flow’ ringing in her ear she starts to embrace this new way of living!

Her friend Kathy is brilliant in helping Alice find her feet and try new experiences and also makes her remember just how creative she used to be, before life got in the way! She can’t believe how warm and friendly everyone is either! She seems to be getting quite a bit of male attention from very attentive drivers and waiters !! Never a bad thing to have too much attention!!

With new passions to explore and new relationships beginning to blossom, I loved seeing how Alice began to find her happy! She took  back control and even though she often found it easier to run away from her problems whenever the past reared its’ head again, the new confidence she found in herself seemed to make her ready to face anything life could throw at her and this story was just a delight to read throughout!

★★★★★

#CoverReveal HANUKKAH AT THE GREAT GREENWICH ICE CREAMERY by SHARON IBBOTSON @ChocLituk

cover reveal
We meet again! Thanks for stopping by today as I have the great pleasure of sharing yet another stunner of a cover with you all, on behalf of the lovely Sharon Ibbotson and the team at Choc Lit!!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream …

Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.

But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?

Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery will be published by Choc Lit on 4th December and will be available to purchase as an eBook on all platforms and also in audio.

ARE WE READY??!! Here it is!!!

😍😍😍

How blooming gorgeous is that?!! Definitely one of my favourite Christmas covers and I cannot wait for the release in December!!

❆❅❄

#MusicMonday OK GO – Upside Down & Inside Out

Here we are again! Time to share some tunes on Music Monday!  A brilliant weekly thing hosted by Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek where you can just share a favourite song or video!

And I’ve gone for a band this week who make the most amazing videos so I had to share with you! It’s OK GO and this song is Upside Down & Inside Out – a video shot in zero gravity! I hope you check out their videos as they’re all so unique and amazing to watch!  While finding this one I’ve just had a marathon of watching their other vids and they still fascinate me in the logistics of shooting them!

LYRICS

Upside down and inside out
And you can feel it
Upside down and inside out
And you can feel it, feel it
Don’t know where your eyes are
But they’re not doin’ what you said
Don’t know where your mind is baby
But you’re better off without itInside down and upside out
And you can feel it
Don’t stop
Can’t stop
It’s like an airplane goin’ down
I wish I had said the things you thought that I had said
Gravity’s just a habit that you’re really sure you can’t breakSo when you met the new you
Were you scared?
Were you cold?
Were you kind?
Yeah when you met the new you
Did someone die inside?Don’t stop
Can’t stop
It’s like a freight train
Don’t stop
Can’t stop
It’s like an airplane goin’ down
Don’t know where your eyes are
But they’re not doin’ what you said
Don’t know…

My bookish weekly wrap up – 26th October 2019

Hello all!  Are we all set for November then?! Nope, me neither!!  And I still can’t get excited about the ‘c’ word that is fast approaching! Hoping to make buying presents for everyone easier this year though by just buying everyone book tokens! I know I’d be happy with that kind of gift lol!!

And speaking of books, it’s been another successful week of reading – and adding to the TBR mountain!  5 books finished and 3  new arrivals – there have been other arrivals but I’ll be posting about those in a separate post! 

So here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter – 4 stars

The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird – 5 stars

Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley – 4 stars

The Name of all Things by Jenn Lyons – 4 stars

Keeper Of Secrets by Lynda Stacey – 4 stars

BOOKHAUL

Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley

Got a personally signed copy from Goldsboro Books!

For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley – one half of one of the most famous bands in the world – tells the inside story of Wham! and his life-long friendship with George Michael.

It is 1975, Watford, and two teenagers, George and Andrew, meet for the first time. Bonding over their love for singing, song writing and pop music, together they set out to follow an impossible dream.

They didn’t know it then, but they were taking their first steps towards forming Wham!, a band that was to become one of the biggest in the world.

Wham! were the soundtrack of the 80s; whether it was choosing life or Live Aid, the decade of flamboyance and fun was a party that seemed like it would never end. But it had to stop somewhere – and that was in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

In Wham! George and Me, Andrew Ridgeley tells the story of Wham! – from the day they met to that iconic final concert. For the first time, he reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George. It’s a story only he can tell.

 THE UNSPOKEN NAME by A.K.LARKWOOD

publication date – February 2020

received a copy for review from Tor Books

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due

IMAGINARY FRIEND by STEPHEN CHBOSKY

signed edition – Goldsboro Book of the Month

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

CURRENTLY READING

MINE by SUSI FOX

FINDING HENRY APPLEBEE by CELIA REYNOLDS

HAPPY READING!!

A Persephone Book Haul!!

Sometimes it needs to be done!!   You just need more grey books in your life, so through a combination of online used book sites and local charity shop finds, I have found myself the new owner of 7 more Persephone titles to add to my collection – bringing the total now to 35!

So here’s a little look at the new titles – would love your thoughts if you’ve managed to read any of these! Which one should I read first?!

An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43

Etty Hillesum (1914-43) lived in Amsterdam, like Anne Frank, and like her she kept a diary. ‘All the writings she left behind,’ writes Eva Hoffman in her Preface to this edition of her diaries and letters, ‘were composed in the shadow of the Holocaust, but they resist being read primarily in its dark light. Rather, their abiding interest lies in the light- filled mind that pervades them and in the astonishing internal journey they chart. Etty’s pilgrimage grew out of the intimate experience of an intellectual young woman – it was idiosyncratic, individual, and recognisably modern… The private person who revealed herself in her diary was impassioned, erotically volatile, restless… Yet she had the kind of genius for introspection that converts symptoms into significance and joins self-examination to philosophical investigation… In the last stages of her amazing and moving journey, Etty seemed to attain that peace which passeth understanding… Finally, however, the violence and brutality she saw all around her overwhelmed even her capacity to understand… But by knowing and feeling so deeply and fully, an unknown young woman became one of the most exceptional and truest witnesses of the devastation through which she lived.’

Dimanche and Other Stories

by Irène Némirovsky
Irène Némirovsky, b.1903, has become one of France’s most famous writers. But after her death in 1942 she was virtually forgotten. It was only with the rediscovery of the manuscript of Suite Française in a suitcase and its publication in France in 2004 and in the UK and USA in 2006 that her name started to become as well-known as it is today.

Némirovsky was brought up in Tsarist Russia, but after the Revolution her family escaped to France, where they lived a comfortable bourgeois life in Paris and in Biarritz. Her first novel, David Golder, came out when she was 26 and she became instantly famous. The book was a penetrating glimpse of a world she knew well, the circle of successful or not-so successful Russian Jewish businessmen, speculating ruthlessly in oil and minerals. David Golder is appallingly treated by his wife: she owes something to Némirovsky’s mother (from whom she was estranged most of her adult life). The book’s enormous success was based on the directness of its language, including crudities unusual in good literature.

None of the later novels were as successful as David Golder and the short stories were written in large part because Némirovsky and her husband had two daughters and both needed to earn in order to help support what was by now quite a lavish way of life. Yet the ten pieces in Dimanche are everything that a short story should be: beautifully written, novels in miniature, fascinating, profound, all this and more. As in a Chekhov short story, little happens but everything happens. Whether describing the impatience of a girl waiting for her lover, the tortured relationships of a large family, or the emotions of someone fleeing the Nazis, Némirovsky is always an extremely astute observer, delicate, perceptive and ironic.

Tea with Mr. Rochester

by  Frances Towers
When these captivating and at times bizarre stories were published posthumously in 1949, Angus Wilson wrote: ‘It appears no exaggeration to say that Frances Towers’s death in 1948 may have robbed us of a figure of more than purely contemporary significance. At first glance one might be disposed to dismiss Miss Towers as an imitation Jane Austen, but it would be a mistaken judgment, for her cool detachment and ironic eye are directed more often than not against the sensible breeze that blasts and withers, the forthright candour that kills the soul. Miss Towers flashes and shines now this way, now that, like a darting sunfish.’ ‘At her best her prose style is a shimmering marvel,’ wrote the Independent on Sunday, ‘and few writers can so deftly and economically delineate not only the outside but the inside of a character…There’s always more going on than you can possibly fathom.’ And the Guardian said: ‘Her social range may not be wide, but her descriptions are exquisite and her tone poised between the wry and the romantic.’

Five of the stories were read on BBC Radio 4.
 

The Wise Virgins

by Leonard Woolf
The Wise Virgins (1913) is a semi-autobiographical novel about a dilemma: whether Harry, the hero, should go into the family business and marry the suitable but dull girl next door or move in artistic circles and marry one of the entrancing ‘Lawrence’ girls. For, as Lyndall Gordon writes in her Persephone Preface: ‘It is a truth widely acknowledged that Camilla Lawrence is a portrait of the author’s wife – Virginia Woolf.’ This is one reason why the novel is so intriguing. But it is also a Forsterian social comedy, funny, perceptive, highly intelligent, full of clever dialogue and at times bitterly satirical; while the dramatic and emotional denouement still retains a great deal of its power to shock. It was on his honeymoon in 1912 that Leonard Woolf began writing his second (and final) novel. He was 31, newly returned from seven years as a colonial administrator, and asking himself much the same questions as his hero. Helen Dunmore wrote in The Sunday Times: ‘It’s a passionate, cuttingly truthful story of a love affair between two people struggling against the prejudices of their time and place. Woolf’s writing is almost unbearably honest.’ 

The Expendable Man

by Dorothy B.Hughes
The critic HRF Keating chose The Expendable Man as one of his Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books. ‘A late addition to the thirteen crime stories Dorothy B Hughes wrote with great success in one prolific spell between 1940 and 1952,’ it was, in his view, her best book. But it is far more than a crime novel. Just as her earlier books had engaged with the political issues of the 1940s – the legacy of the Depression, and the struggles against fascism and rascism – so The Expendable Man, published in 1963 during Kennedy’s presidency and set in Arizona, evokes the emerging social, racial and moral tensions of the time.

William – An Englishman

by Cicely Hamilton
William was ‘written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel… is a passionate assertion of the futility of war’ (the Spectator). Its author had been an actress and suffragette; after 1914 she worked at the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont and organised Concerts at the Front. William – an Englishman was written in a tent within sound of guns and shells; this ‘stunning… terrifically good’ novel (Radio 4’s A Good Read) is in one sense a very personal book, animated by fury and cynicism, and in another a detached one; yet is always ‘profoundly moving’ (Financial Times).

In the view of Persephone Books, William is one of the greatest novels about war ever written: not the war of the fighting soldier or the woman waiting at home, but the war encountered by Mr and Mrs Everyman, wrenched away from their comfortable preoccupations – Socialism, Suffragettism, so gently mocked by Cicely Hamilton – and forced to be part of an almost dream-like horror (because they cannot at first believe what is happening to them). The scene when William and Griselda emerge after three idyllic weeks in a honeymoon cottage in the remote hills of the Belgian Ardennes, and encounter German brutality in a small village, is unforgettable. The book, which won the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse in 1919, is a masterpiece, written with an immediacy and a grim realism reminiscent of an old-fashioned, flickering newsreel. 

The Carlyles At Home

by Thea Holme
This book about Thomas and Jane Carlyle’s life together at 5 (now 24) Cheyne Row, Chelsea was written in the 1960s by a former actress who was then living there as co-custodian of the house with her husband. The Carlyles at Home evokes everyday life from the day the Carlyles moved in, in 1834, until Jane’s death in 1866. Each of the eleven chapters describes different aspects of the house, whether it is yet another builders’ drama or a maid giving birth in the china closet while ‘Mr Carlyle was taking tea in the dining-room with Miss Jewsbury talking to him!!! Just a thin small door between!’

❤❤❤

#BookReview STARVE ACRE by ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY

ABOUT THE BOOK

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror

published by John Murray

publication date – 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £9.35

whsmith  £9.35

hive.co.uk  £10.29

goldsboro books – signed first edition £12.99

MY REVIEW

This is a beautifully written story that looks at grief as we follow a mother and father dealing with the loss of their son in very different ways, and you can’t help but feel the pain and sorrow that they both are feeling.

The father, Richard, deals with the loss by finding a distraction. And that for him is digging up a nearby field to try and discover the roots of the legendary tree, Stythwaite Oak – apparently used for local hangings but there’s no real proof it existed other than that of woodblock prints that he uncovers amongst his fathers books. The soil in the field where it grew is dead – nothing has ever grown there, there’s no worms or signs of life, just bones. Richard uncovers the bones of a hare here and spends time lovingly cleaning them and putting them back together. Anything to avoid having to listen to his wife sobbing.

His wife has retreated to their home and spends all day crying. She sees no point in making an effort to leave the house as she feels the presence of her son at home and wants to be with him all the time. Her idea of contacting a spiritual group, The Beacons, to help her contact her son doesn’t go down well with Richard or her sister, but she’s convinced it will help her ease the pain.

So this once united couple are torn apart by grief and I found it quite harrowing at times spending time in their company, especially as there were flashbacks to times when their son was alive and well. The more of these look backs we get, the more we realise that their son Ewan had a dark personality and was involved in some unsavoury incidents at school and at home where the ‘dark talked to him’. It really added a creepy and chilling element to this story and the spooky goings on surrounding the house and tree were often unexpected and added a totally different feel to the way I thought the story was going to go!

I did find the second part of the book didn’t work quite as well for me as it did go a little too weird (and I normally embrace the weird and wonderful!) and there wasn’t enough time given to explore different elements that were revealed. I would have loved this book to go on a little longer as I think it would have been more pleasing for the whole reading experience, but I still found it to be a haunting and fascinating story

★★★★

My thanks to Readers First for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview SO LUCKY by DAWN O’PORTER #SoLucky

‘A total joy’ Matt Haig


‘Compulsively gripping and taps into the shame and self-hatred we *all* battle with. It is also very, very funny’ Sara Pascoe


ABOUT THE BOOK


IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.

Published by HarperCollins

Publication Date – 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

Forget teenage angst, there’s nothing more stressed, pissed off and downright angry than a woman and that is what this book is based around! The issues that make us grumpy, the pressures we all put ourselves under, the absurdities of life in the Instagram world we now live in – motherhood, relationships, body image, modern life – it’s all here and perfectly pitched by the author in a savage but humourous story that I thoroughly enjoyed and ended up finding really touching and poignant!

The two main characters are Ruby and Beth. Both very different women, but both struggling! Ruby is struggling with motherhood – it’s more downs than ups with her daughter Bonnie who she seems in a constant battle with! Ruby isn’t the most patient of people so she seems to spend most of her days raging at the world and getting nowhere. As you learn more about her you understand she has always had a bad relationship with her mother which hasn’t helped her confidence, and neither has a medical condition she has which means she’ always conscious of her body. You can’t help feel sorry for her and just want to give her a big hug at times to let her know she should go easier on herself! Her line of work sees her retouching photographs – very apt in the world we now live in where you can airbrush your lumps and bumps away – so the concept of body image is always playing on her mind. Is she being a good role model to her daughter or is just history repeating itself?

And Beth is a new mum to Tommy, and married to Michael who seems to have serious issues with sex (he’s a weird one!!) and being cruel towards her about her weight and coming up with reasons not to have sex with her again. Not very happily married for a woman who is a wedding planner for the rich and famous!

Her newest client is an Instagram celebrity and this brilliantly allows that whole world be dissected and analyzed – the image doesn’t always match up to the reality and I found that really fascinating to see portrayed especially as Beth starts to feel sorry for her client, Lauren, who posts amazing pictures and quotes but in reality she seems to be very unsure of herself.

As these women’s lives wobble from bad to worse, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing their thoughts on issues that affect us all, and the fact that by talking to friends or a stranger in a park allows them to confront the realities in their life and how they can go about changing things, finding good in themselves and taking back control.

There were many laugh out loud moments when things went wrong, or got a little too graphic (there’s a lot of sex talk going on!), but it was also very poignant when reality hits home for these women and I just loved how honest and frank it was. Nothing is sugarcoated!!

The story does a great job of showing just how complex life can be, especially as a woman, be it with relationships, friendships, work, and in general how we all view ourselves and how we all judge others. It’s only when we get to know the person behind the image that we begin to understand that we’re all messed up! No matter what image we try to share, there’s always something that links us and shows us that the grass isn’t always greener.

Whether it is society that makes us constantly pick holes in ourselves, or it’s just the way we are, I found this to be an engrossing read that just got better the more it went on, and found it really empowering and thought provoking!

★★★★

My thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley for the early e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE WISH LIST OF ALBIE YOUNG by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD @bookouture

ABOUT THE BOOK

This unmissable, unforgettable book will crack your heart in two and piece it back together again. Have a packet of tissues handy…

Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all – everything hurts less on a Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart at the seams. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the weekly TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete.

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…

This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…

Published by Bookouture

Publication Date – 12th November 2019

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon UK – 99p

MY REVIEW

Spoiler alert – books about old people always make me cry! And you’ll have to have a heart of stone if you don’t find yourself shedding a tear or two during this stunning debut from Ruby Hummingbird that captures beautifully those little moments that often end up meaning the most and how just a simple action can start a wonderful chain reaction off, bringing hope to those who need it.

It’s set in Brighton, and we follow the story of Maria.  She lives alone and has a weekly routine that she sticks to rigidly – Thursday is her favourite day though after a chance encounter with a man in a cafe, means she now meets up with him every Thursday for tea, cake and a chat.  Until one day he doesn’t show and she’s devastated to lose that connection.

When she receives a call from a lawyer, the truth about Albie is revealed and it was heartbreaking to see how Maria reacted to the news. But Albie has done something rather wonderful for her and her life and routine is set to change, if only she can cope with the loss.

With the discovery of a list that Albie left behind, she finds out he’s been a good samaritan  in his life, with a wish list where he helps a number of local people. Many of the plans he had are still unticked so she sets out to carry on his good work and starts to meet up with the people that Albie had gone out of his way to spend time with.  From a homeless man, to a troubled youngster and even to Albie’s sister, Maria starts to disover a life outside of her routine and the wonderful feeling you get when you can help someone  – it’s one of those stories that makes your heart burst with happiness when you see the positive effects a simple action can create.

Maria finds her own name on the list and ticking her ‘wishes’ off the list might prove the most difficult as she has to face some heartbreak from the past.

Maria finds that helping people isn’t always taken in the right spirit but the sense of purpose and responsibility really makes her shine, and knowing that Albie wasn’t doing these things for attention, but just to help, is just another heartwarming aspect of this whole book.  

Totally adorable and a wonderful antidote of a read to the often heartless and harsh world we are living in. A must read!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Bookouture and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.