Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – Looking For JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) by Anne Cassidy

Published August 31, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . .

Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it’s still hard for her to believe it. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life–she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it’s about to rip her new life apart.

A gripping and emotionally searing novel by accomplished British author Anne Cassidy, Looking for JJ infuses a terrifying subject with humanity and hope.

What did I think?:

It’s always difficult to decide what twelve books Chrissi and I should put on our kid lit list at the start of every year as there is such a wealth of brilliant children’s literature out there yet I don’t think we are ever going to struggle over what to choose! Anne Cassidy is an author I’ve heard of but I’ve never read any of her work before and Looking For JJ was suggested as one of the top books for younger readers, although it does probably sit firmly in the young adult category rather than “kid lit,” due to some of the more adult content.

JJ is the nickname of Jennifer Jones who when she is ten years old does something absolutely terrible in a moment of madness, something that she regrets deeply and something that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. Due to the enormity and severity of what she does, after spending some time in a young offender’s institution she is released and given a brand new identity – that of Alice Tully and a new home with a wonderful social worker called Rosie who keeps an eye on Alice and helps her to adjust to her new life whilst she prepares to go to university and study history.

We learn about Alice’s life in the present time as she begins to integrate herself back into society, working part-time at a local coffee shop and even forging a tentative relationship with her boyfriend, Frankie. Of course, Alice can’t forget the dreadful things that happened in her past and we also get an insight into her life as a child when she was Jennifer, especially the toxic relationship she had with her mother and her struggles to adapt to foster care or short stays with a rather indifferent grandmother when her mother decides that she can’t deal with looking after her at certain points in her life. Piece by piece, the trauma and deep sadness of Alice/Jennifer’s childhood becomes apparent and we begin to see what happened to precipitate the events of that awful day that changed her life forever.

Very few people know that Alice Tully is Jennifer Jones, including her boyfriend, Frankie mainly for her own safety so you can imagine the horror that ensues when a private detective comes sniffing around, certain that Jennifer Jones has been released and is living under a new identity. She has absolutely no contact with her mother for reasons that will become apparent as the story continues, but memories of her and the way she was treated as a child still get deep underneath her skin. Alice is forced to confront the ghosts of her past on a daily basis but none more so when her new identity is compromised and the whole life that she is has built as this new person may now be in jeopardy.

As I mentioned earlier, this book was a bit of a surprise and I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Both the plot and characters were truly spell-binding and the book was pretty much impossible to put down – I easily finished it on the same day I began reading it! It may not be entirely suitable for younger readers as, at times, there is quite a bit of adult content but I don’t want to give too much away by saying exactly what this is. As part of the young adult genre however, it is a brilliant, thrilling ride that is sure to captivate and surprise readers until the very end. Chrissi recently informed me that there is a follow up to this novel – Finding Jennifer Jones and I’m certain that this will be going on my TBR list for the near future!

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Blog Tour – Garlic And Gauloises by Hemmie Martin

Published August 30, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Alice Calwin finds herself without purpose in life after the death of her mother, whom she’d been caring for following a stroke. Theo Edwards, a literary journalist, has a sour outlook on life, bolstered by his ongoing divorce, and is feeling the pressure to revitalise his column in the newspaper. They encounter one another at a writers’ retreat in France, but Alice’s shameful past and Theo’s deceptive reasons for being there end up affecting them both in very different ways. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends?

What did I think?:

First of all, a big thank you to the lovely Faye Rogers for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and to the author and publishers for providing me with a free copy of this novel in return for an honest review. Contemporary fiction is one of my favourite genres to read and on doing a bit of research on the author, I discovered she likes to write “crime and contemporary fiction with a dark edge,” – well, perfect for me I thought! As I began reading, I did wonder where the dark aspect would reveal itself but soon enough, it certainly appears and I was engrossed from that point onwards.

Our main character is forty-something Alice Calwin who has recently experienced the terrible loss of her beloved mother and confidante. Her death wasn’t exactly a shock, Alice had been her primary carer after a stroke but Alice misses her deeply and, being quite a nervous and shy individual, is not certain how to deal with the new hole in her life. One of her few joys in life is to write (usually in the romance genre) and when she sees an advertisement for a writing retreat in France, she thinks it might be the perfect way to get some writing done, get some advice about her writing and gradually open herself up to the possibility of socialising and meeting new people, perhaps even one day someone special of her own.

There are a whole host of interesting characters that join Alice on the retreat but the stand out person for her that she ends up becoming involved with is a man called Theo Edwards, who unfortunately for Alice, is there for darker reasons than being an author. He is a writer, of sorts, but a literary journalist who normally writes book reviews for a paper but has recently become disillusioned with his job. As he sees the same advertisement for the writing retreat, he hatches a plan with his editor that he will book himself onto the retreat undercover as a potential unpublished author but instead provide insider secrets and juicy gossip about the individuals that would go on this kind of adventure.

Theo finds some brilliant fodder for his columns in the personalities of the characters that go on the retreat – the two old ladies that love their cosy mysteries, Marlon the personal trainer who appears to harbour a guilty secret, Clive, the gay thriller writer who only has eyes for Marlon, Zoe, the young sexy erotica writer who also fancies Marlon (and almost anything else that is male with a pulse) and then Alice, herself who seems to intrigue Theo the most. He is certain that she has had some kind of personal tragedy in her life to make her the woman that she is and he uses all the charm at his disposal to get her to open up to him whilst writing his columns depicting all her flaws and how pathetic he feels she really is. Everything comes to a head one evening at the retreat when something terrible happens that rocks the worlds of all the characters at the house and exposes a few for who they really are. It is only after this incident and after the retreat is over that lies are exposed and some characters lives are changed forever as a result.

I have to admit, when I first began this novel, I thought I would be able to predict what would happen. However, the author completely floored me with certain things that occurred…(no spoilers here!) and I found myself pleasantly surprised and at the same time, quite horrified with the turn of events. The characters are all fascinating although at times I alternated between feeling slightly irritated and desperately sorry for Alice as she fell under the spell of dastardly Theo – by the way, such a brilliant character to hate! Nevertheless, the tables do turn and by the end of the novel, I had quite a different opinion of the villain of the piece, which was quite a feat considering how much I disliked him in the beginning! The ending was particularly bitter sweet and I find myself still thinking about Alice and worrying about her future (as you do with fictional characters who get under your skin?!). This was the first novel I’ve read by Hemmie Martin and after this effort, I would definitely consider reading another.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Hemmie Martin

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.
Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.

Website: http://hemmiemartin.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HemmieMM/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hemmie-Martin-Author-Page/270022226396038?fref=ts/

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers? Garlic And Gauloises was released on 11th December 2015 by Winter Goose Publishing and is available in both paperback and e-book format from all good bookshops now!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28140205-garlic-gauloises
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/194105837X

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Banned Books 2016 – AUGUST READ – Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Published August 29, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. ‘We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,’ says Antonio’s mother. ‘It is not the way of our people,’ agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.

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Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our eighth banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

SEPTEMBER – Bone- Jeff Smith

OCTOBER – The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls

NOVEMBER- Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegesar

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

First published: 1972

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2013 (source)

Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Bless Me, Ultima is one of our older releases on our banned books list this year and, as a result, I can see why certain things in the book may be challenged due to the change in attitudes compared to more modern times (this is not to say I necessarily agree with the challenges of course!). This book has a lot of references to witchcraft – the “black witch” kind that involves the devil not the nice, nature-loving “white witch” kind and I know there are a lot of people out there who do not want their children exposed to that kind of thing. If we compare it to nowadays, this is the same kind of people that don’t want books like Roald Dahl’s “The Witches,” or J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter,” available in schools. I don’t agree with their viewpoints as I think curiosity in children should be encouraged but I understand their right to a difference in opinion.

CHRISSI: Hm. I can understand why parents wouldn’t want their children to read this book as it does heavily deal with witchcraft and when published there would be quite an uproar about the subject matter of this book. I can understand why there would be uproar over it, especially with certain religions. So yes, I understand why it was challenged but I wouldn’t say that I necessarily agree with it.

How about now?

BETH: Nowadays, I think it’s even more important for children to have access to a wide variety of information about different practices and opinions to their own or their parents, even if it is difficult or somewhat controversial – within reason, of course depending on the age of the child. In the time of the internet where EVERYTHING is available, I think if children are curious enough, banning or refusing access to the book isn’t going to help. If they are determined enough, they are going to get their hands on it anyway and sometimes I believe refusing something might actually encourage children to be more rebellious and seek it out more!

CHRISSI:  I honestly don’t think that this book would be as problematic now as it was when it was first released. This is mainly due to the amount of ‘popular’ wizardry/witchy books out there right now. It seems much more acceptable subject to be featured in literature. I know some parents still have problems with witchcraft books (I wasn’t allowed to read The Witches by Roald Dahl to my class of 6-7 year olds last year, as one child’s parent was a devout Christian) but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it used to be. I think putting a banned label on something can make children more curious to seek it out themselves.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Unfortunately, I really didn’t get on with this book. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have any problem with the content and I normally love a good bit of magical realism but something just didn’t sit right with me. I couldn’t get into the plot, the characters or the writing flow and it all seemed a bit too airy-fairy. Antonio and Ultima were decent enough characters and the things that Antonio has to witness and go through are much harder than your general coming of age story but I just found myself a bit bored and disappointed throughout, despite the difference in culture which I would normally love.

CHRISSI: I really didn’t like this book. Despite it having a lot going on from witchcraft, murder and revenge, I found myself to be incredibly bored throughout and I ended up skim-reading quite a bit which is a shame. This book just did not grab me like I wanted it to. I also don’t think the story is very relevant to today’s readers. Hmm. A real disappointment.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.
CHRISSI: It’s not for me!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

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Join us again on the last Monday of September when we will be discussing Bone by Jeff Smith.

Blog Tour – Abe Lincoln On Acid by Brian Anthony and Bill Walker

Published August 28, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

There are whispers even now that Abraham Lincoln never really died, that a voodoo spell cursed him with a terrible eternal life. It has even been claimed that he robbed banks in the 1930s with John Dillinger, only to mysteriously disappear once again into the pages of history. But the truth is even stranger than the rumors…

Watched over by a vengeful J. Edgar Hoover and held in a secret location near his old Springfield home, Lincoln re-awakens in the 1960s, and finds himself thrust into an era even more turbulent than the Depression.

Escaping Hoover’s clutches, he navigates an even more treacherous and unfamiliar terrain, finding an ally in John Voci, a young San Francisco folk-singer. Together they journey across a counter-cultural landscape, meeting those who believe a great man has returned, and striving to remain free from those who want to bury him once and for all.

What did I think?:

I know some of you may be looking at the book cover and the title right now and thinking what the….? but stay with me for the duration while I talk to you about a very unique book that I was invited to read and give an honest review on by Sage Adderley for this blog tour. (Thank you to everyone concerned!) I’m always on the look out for books that expand my horizons slightly, are a bit different and are not of the usual genre that I read and Abe Lincoln On Acid fulfilled all these briefs. I only realised when I first started to read it that it’s actually the second book that the authors have done on Abe Lincoln – the first being Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No 1 and I’m normally quite a stickler for reading things in the exact sequence that they were released. However, believe me when I say this really didn’t matter in this case and Abe Lincoln On Acid can easily be read as a stand-alone.

So, there’s an old urban legend that Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America is actually alive and well after his assassination in 1865. Well…when I say alive and well, I mean in a semi-comatose state, able to swallow food and take drink but essentially unconscious, until something happens in his beloved country to wake him up again and beg his assistance. When the current President, Barack Obama hears that Lincoln has now awoken from his deep sleep, he obviously believes it to be a big joke that his staff are playing on him – that is, until he meets Abe in the flesh and Abe begins to tell him a story about when he last “woke up” in the sixties in a bid to prevent the assassination of a certain Dr Martin Luther King.

J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the FBI in the sixties, is hell-bent on Abraham being kept in the house where he slept for all those years and on no circumstances allowed to walk the streets, meet with the public or get to Luther King. However, crafty Lincoln manages to find a way out of his “prison,” past the agents and out into the world where he hopes his purpose for waking up will finally become clear. The world of the 1960’s is already very different to when Lincoln last woke up (the 1930’s) and he meets a range of different people, sees a variety of amazing things and tries some mind-expanding substances that has him looking at America and its people in a whole new light.

I have to admit, I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened this book although the synopsis immediately intrigued me. I loved the idea of Abraham Lincoln wandering around in a modern world and anticipating how he would react to certain things was really fun. My favourite character (apart from the endearing and very charming Lincoln himself of course) had to be the young man that Abe ends up be-friending, John Voci, a musician whose talent lies in singing very funny songs about vegetables and snappy one-liners. It’s an entertaining read that doesn’t take itself too seriously and was the light-hearted relief that I needed after reading one too many intense type novels. I would be interested to know what Abe gets up to now that he’s awakened in the age of Barack Obama…

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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BILL WALKER

A graduate of Emerson College’s prestigious film school, Bill wrote and directed his first feature film, Pawn, while still a student. After graduation, he co-founded Newbury Filmworks, Inc., an award-winning production company renowned for making high-quality corporate films and commercials.

In 1990, Bill relocated to Los Angeles, and began a freelance story analysis career for various studios and independent production companies, while devoting his spare time to the writing of novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is also a highly-respected graphic designer, specializing in book and dust jacket design. He has worked on books by such luminaries as: Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. In addition, Bill is a member of the Authors Guild.

He has won awards for his screenwriting, his two short story collections for Mid-Graders, Five-Minute Frights and Five-Minute Chillers, are perennial Halloween favorites, and his first novel, Titanic 2012 was enthusiastically received by readers. His second novel, Camp Stalag was released in 2001. Bill lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Debbie, and their sons, Jeffrey and Brian.

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BRIAN ANTHONY

I’m in my late fifties and began to write seriously after I was made redundant from my post as an Oracle Database Administrator in 2011. I spent my whole working life with computers, starting out in 1978 as technical support in the development of PABXs (private telephone systems) before becoming an IBM Systems Programmer in 1984. Towards the advent of the new Millennium I began to train as an Oracle DBA on Unix systems and finally let go of the reigns to the mainframe after seeing the year 2000 successfully through.

I live in Wales in a small cottage with my wife and our dog, a lively Collie cross (Welsh Collie/Border Collie) called Moli.

My ultimate aim is to bring enough money in as a writer to supplement my various pensions when I officially retire in however many years time that will be (depends whether the government keeps moving the goal posts or not).

No allusions of fame or fortune, just want to be comfortable in retirement and if I can sell the odd story or two it’ll go a long way to keeping the wolf from the door.

 

Abe Lincoln On Acid was published on 1st July 2015 by Walker and Anthony Publications and is available in paperback and as an e-book now!

Talking About A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton with Chrissi Reads

Published August 25, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love
 
When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Amaterasu spends most of the novel feeling that she is to blame for things that have happened. How has this affected her life and does the novel provide a resolution?

BETH: Poor Amaterasu! I found her such a fascinating character and alternated between feeling really cross with her and then really sorry for her after her actions lead to her living such a sad, lonely life when her husband dies. Her potential grandson turns up on her doorstep one day after he had been searching for her for quite a while and you begin to see the start of a relationship between the two as Amaterasu thinks back to the events that caused her to lose her daughter and believe her grandson was dead. She escapes to America with her husband as she doesn’t feel that she can stay in Nagasaki because of all the bad memories associated with it. Even though she promises her husband on his death bed that she will try and integrate herself with the community, she becomes a virtual recluse, even developing a bit of an alcohol problem and it is only with the appearance of a man that claims to be a grandson that she can put old ghosts to rest.

BETH: Could you understand why Amaterasu made the decisions she did?

CHRISSI: Somewhat, I don’t want to spoil the reading experience for others! Amaterasu has to look back at her life and begin to come to terms with what happened in the time period before, during and after the bombing. It takes Amaterasu some courage to look back at her past and look for forgiveness for her actions so she can live the rest of her life in peace. It is a particularly painful look back for Amaterasu as she feels pain and immense guilt after her actions.

CHRISSI: What did you feel that you learnt about Japanese culture and the differences between East and West?

BETH: I felt I learned so much! This book is really special for the little paragraphs above each chapter that describe a Japanese word or phrase and what it means for the Japanese people. Even though the author is British, the novel is inspired by her years living in Nagasaki in the 90’s and it’s obvious she’s done her research and really integrated herself into the Japanese mindset. The East and West cultures can be quite different but it’s always fascinating to learn about a different culture and way of life.

BETH: Did your opinion of Sato change at any point in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Not really. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t like Sato as a character at all. I get the feeling that I was supposed to find some sympathy for him, but I just found him infuriating. I guess he did try and find redemption within his letters and his adopting an orphan, but for me, my opinion didn’t change. I didn’t find him likeable at all.

CHRISSI: You love Japanese fiction.  Did this book live up to your expectations?

BETH: I certainly do and it certainly did. It reminded me of Memoirs Of A Geisha and was beautifully written with a fascinating plot and intriguing characters, especially our main character Amaterasu. I also felt like I learned a lot about the horrors of the Nagasaki bombing and the effect it had on so many people’s lives and it’s encouraged me to read a bit more into it.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think it would depend on what the subject matter was. I do think the writer has a beautiful writing style, but I wouldn’t race to read another.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!
CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s star rating (out of 5):

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CHRISSI’S star rating (out of 5):

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The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry #2) – Rachel Joyce

Published August 21, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

From the author of the 2 million+ copy, worldwide bestseller,The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, an exquisite, funny and heartrending parallel story.

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.

Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novel about the journey we all must take to learn who we are; it is about loving and letting go. And most of all it is about finding joy in unexpected places and at times we least expect.

What did I think?:

Rachel Joyce’s debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry makes its way onto my favourite books of all-time list so it was simply a no-brainer that I was going to read this one, a companion novel to the Harold Fry story, when it came out. The Love Song Of Queenie Hennessy can be read as a stand alone, but to be honest, I think its best if you read Harold Fry first, to get a real flavour of the characters and understand why Harold decides to walk all those miles to visit Queenie in the hospice when he receives her letter that tells him she is dying.

From the very beginning of Harold Fry, I started to fall in love with the character of Queenie and was ecstatic beyond words when I heard that she was going to get her very own voice and we would hear her side of the story. When Queenie hears what Harold is doing, she is both shocked and very excited but feels there are some things that Harold needs to know, things that she has been keeping hidden all these years and a tragedy that she feels responsible for. The kindly nuns suggest that Queenie writes Harold another letter to explain all of this as due to the cancer, Queenie can sadly no longer talk so Queenie does just that.

One letter turns into a epic mountain of a task, with the nuns having to tape the pen to Queenie’s hand so she can carry on writing near the end – she is determined to finish and adamant that she will stay alive until he arrives. Through Queenie’s words we learn about her early life, when she was a young woman and first met Harold, her trials and tribulations through her life, especially with Harold’s son, David, and her beloved sea garden that she constructs and people come from miles around to see.  Not only do we learn more about the sweetness that is Queenie with her unrequited love and admiration for Harold but a whole host of whimsical characters in the hospice like Pearly King and the fiesty, foul-mouthed (but ever so loveable) Finty who also find their own determination to live to see Harold Fry arrive.

This novel ticked all the right boxes for me in terms of an amazing plot and stupendous characterisation, which I already knew about from Harold Fry but it was lovely to hear the secrets and drama behind Queenie’s life. Oh my gosh, the sadness though….I remember wanting to cry at the end of Harold Fry but at the end of Queenie Hennessy, Rachel Joyce actually succeeded in making me a sobbing mess – in a good way of course! The prose again was flawless and truly beautiful and the moments of humour combined with the tragedy of it all floored me on many occasions. One of my friends on GoodReads has suggested that there could be a third book, told from the perspective of Harold’s wife, Maureen and I have to admit, I’d love her to give it a shot. Please Rachel Joyce, please?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Mini Pin-It Reviews #1 – Four Author Requests

Published August 20, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone and welcome to a new feature on my blog! Due to problems with a chronic illness (which I hope to explain to you in a personal post soon) I am hugely behind with my reviews.. yes I actually have a backlog of just over a YEAR in reviews and, I have to be honest, it’s been stressing me out with the thought of never being able to catch up. Then my lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads, who does something similar on her blog, gave me the fantastic idea of doing short and snappy reviews on a post-it. I just want to stress that it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book – it’s just a good way for me for getting something out there a bit quicker for all the wonderful authors that send me books to review and for books I’ve had from NetGalley and Book Bridgr that, although read, are just languishing on the review pile!

For this first post, I’ve chosen four books that I’ve been sent directly from authors (or their publisher) that I’ll still be giving a star rating/recommendation to at the end. Hope you enjoy!

1.) Getting Rooted In New Zealand by Jamie Baywood

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What’s it all about?:

Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

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Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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2.) Off Key by Mark Robertson

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What’s it all about?:

Charlotte has supported Kyle’s precarious musical career for three years. Now it’s her turn. When Kyle doesn’t want to play the breadwinner, she looks to a future on the other side of the Atlantic. Saxophonist Kyle has no money, no career and has now lost the love of his live. Can an autistic twelve-year-old boy and an alcoholic ‘has been’ be his salvation?

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Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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3.) Piano From A 4th Storey Window – Jenny Morton Potts

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What’s it all about?:

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people.

He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up, can their love overcome their losses?

Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) The Death Of Danny Daggers – Haydn Wilks

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What’s it all about?:

Cardiff. The last few days of summer.
Danny Daggers is about to die. He just doesn’t realise it yet.
A Leeds University student with a very popular YouTube channel, Danny Daggers is taking his alcohol-downing stunts on tour.
He’s about to find out that not everyone’s a fan.

Ji Eun is a Korean student doing work experience at the South Wales Post.
Rory Gallagher is the alcoholic veteran journo who’s mentoring her.
Carnage in Cardiff might be just what they need to begin and revive their respective careers.

Tom and Joseph work at one of Cardiff’s many call centres.
Tom is fed up of working boring jobs and living for the weekend.
Joseph is just happy to have a job.

Then there’s the Amstell brothers.
Simon’s just escaped from prison. And he happens to be the father of Joseph’s girlfriend’s son.
And his brothers happen to be psychopaths.

These stories collide and intersect over a frantic few days of heavy drinking, drugs and ultraviolence, set against a backdrop of dystopian modern Britain.

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Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP SOON ON MY PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Book Bridgr Reviews.

 

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