debut novel

All posts tagged debut novel

Blog Tour – Book Spotlight – Sour Fruit by Eli Allison

Published August 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a not too distant future, people are split into either Citizens with rights or VOIDs with nothing. Forced to live in the former port, the VOIDs have adapted to the floods; the brutal nature of life outside of society however, is not so easy.

Onion is snatched. Which is proper shit because she still had nearly twenty quid left on her Angry Slut Teen Clothing gift card and now she was never going to get those flamingo-pink leather chaps she’d been eyeing up. She wakes up chained to an armpit of a river city, earmarked for a skin-trader called The Toymaker. Surrounded by a creeping rot she has just three days to escape before the sold sticker becomes a brand.

Forced into a knife fight with a world that has just pulled an AK47 on her, all Onion has to fight with is; a sewer for a mouth, a rusted up moral compass and a spanking anger that can sucker-punch kindness at twenty paces. She might survive but probably not.

Sour Fruit is a dark dystopian novel set in northern Britain, in a river city called Kingston; a rotting scrap yard of misery. The VOIDs are forced to live there not by walls or fences but by being invisible in the new digital world.

The novel explores ideas about what is home, how friendship can come from strange places and the debts we can’t ever pay back.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Eli Allison tells people at parties that she’s a writer, but she mostly spends the day in her knickers swearing at the laptop. She has never written anything of any fame except for a jarringly bad poem which was read out loud at her secondary school assembly (the highlight of everyone else’s school year, predictably not her own). She gave up poetry and switched to the hard stuff soon after. Writing stories about crushed dreams and balding men looking for love that you could buy by the hour. Those were her happier ones. She ping-ponged between one depressing job after another until her husband said, ‘take a year and write your book’. Years later the book is done…There is a sneaking suspicion he would have kept quiet had he known quite how long it would have taken her.

She lives in Yorkshire, works in her head and does not enjoy long walks on the beach or anywhere, in fact she gets upset at having to walk to the fridge for cheese. She suffers badly from cheese sweats but endures.

Website: http://www.eli-allison.com/

Twitter: @EliAllison3

Instagram: @eliallison_author

And for an extra special treat please check out this animation video all about Sour Fruit HERE

Interested? Grab your copy of the book HERE.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater and Unbound Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Sour Fruit was published in July 2018 and you can pre-order a limited edition by going to the link above. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Advertisements

Block 46 (Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1) – Johana Gustawsson (translated by Maxim Jakubowski)

Published July 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

What did I think?:

All my favourite bloggers have been telling me to read this novel from the Queen of French Noir, Johana Gustawsson and I’ve been putting it off for goodness knows how long but there came a time when I could no longer delay the inevitable and I finally succumbed, gave in, folded, (however else you want to describe it) and all I can say is THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE. This debut novel and the first in a new series is the most excited I’ve been about a debut since Cara Hunter’s Close To Home and I devoured it within a couple of days, reluctant to return to ordinary life each time I picked it up, it was that compelling and had me thoroughly enraptured by the power of both the subject matter and the extraordinary writing.

Johana Gustawsson, author of Block 46, the first novel in the Roy and Castells series.

Like many of my other preferred narrative styles, Block 46 takes place across two time periods. The first is the present day and follows two women, crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy who team up when a series of gruesome murders plague both London and Sweden. Are the murders committed by the same people? Is it a single serial killer or a duo? Why in particular has the killer(s) chosen to focus on these geographical areas? Then the author takes us back to the past, the 1940’s to be exact where we follow a man, Erich Hebner who is incarcerated in the brutal Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Roy and Castells must discover how these two time-lines are connected and attempt to stop a crazed killer who will stop at nothing in order to carry out his convoluted, incredibly twisted little mission.

Prisoners during a roll call at Buchenwald concentration camp.

I don’t know how eloquent I’m going to be at convincing you that if you haven’t read this book yet and you enjoy a gritty, shocking piece of crime fiction, you should pick this book up immediately. I feel a bit cross with myself for not picking this book up earlier myself as I was completely engrossed as soon as I had got to the end of the first page! I don’t often do one-off Tweets about a book I’m currently reading unless I have very strong opinions about the novel either way but with Block 46, I just couldn’t help myself. Part of it is set during one of my favourite periods of history to read about, Nazi Germany but I felt this author found brand new ways to tell me about the suffering of prisoners in the camps that opened my eyes as if I had been reading about the horrors for the very first time. It was intense, it was horrific, it was emotional and grotesque all at the same time. There were some events that occurred where I thought I wouldn’t be able to bear it but even through this, I prevailed because I literally couldn’t put this book down.

I couldn’t help but think as I was reading about how the treatment of the prisoners in concentration camps actually happened. It was this cold, it was this cruel, it was this malicious. The author’s grandfather was actually liberated from Buchenwald camp in 1945 so it’s plain that she has not only a very personal connection to the atrocities perpetuated in that place but has carried out her research diligently and sensitively. On another note and credit to the translator, at no point did it feel like I was reading a translated work, it felt just as raw, sharp and honest in English as I’m sure it does in the author’s native French. Let me just take a moment and mention the characters also, particularly Roy and Castells who I immediately warmed to and who definitely have mysterious depths that I’m hoping get probed a bit further in future books in the series. I especially loved the enigmatic Emily Roy, a no nonsense, blunt, independent woman who is quite the closed book when we first meet her and doesn’t always behave in a socially acceptable way (I can relate to this, I’m incredibly awkward at times!) but there are reasons behind her “poker face” demeanour that we start to discover near the end of the novel and personally, it was really affecting for me.

Finally, can we PLEASE talk about that ending. This is actually when I tweeted my message, it made me gasp out loud whilst waiting in a coffee shop for a hospital appointment and I got quite a few odd looks in return when customers saw the *gasp* was about a book. I know you bookworms would understand though?! All I can say about it is that it was pure and utter brilliance. I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think you could ever predict it and it elevated the author and her talent to even greater heights in my eyes. Now that I’m thinking about the way I delayed reading this book, I’m actually pretty glad I did. It meant I could immediately order the second book from Johana Gustawsson, called Keeper straight after I had finished reading Block 46, something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before. I can already tell that this author has the potential to become a firm favourite where I buy/pre-order her books the second I get the chance to and Block 46 has certainly earned its place on my favourites shelf where I look forward to reading it again in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

Published July 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

What did I think?:

My sister, Chrissi Reads has been begging me to read this book for a while and it just kept getting forgotten in my huge TBR pile. Until now. I decided to put it on my Chrissi Cupboard TBR for June and now I’ve finally got round to reading it, I can see where she was coming from. This is a debut novel from the author, B.A. Paris but is so thrillingly accomplished that it stands up there with the best authors in the genre writing right now. I was slightly concerned when I read the synopsis that it would be another one of *those* psychological thrillers where we can easily predict what’s going to happen but luckily I was completely wrong and the twists and turns blew my misgivings out of the water.

B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors.

As with so many books where giving you too much information would be major spoiler territory, I’m not going to say anything else about the synopsis rather than direct you to the brief summary above taken from Goodreads. I didn’t want to know ANYTHING about this novel going in and I’m so relieved I managed to avoid any reveals because it works so much better as a psychological thriller when the reader has the joy of the element of surprise. This was certainly true for this reader. I didn’t know what on earth was going on when I first met Jack and Grace and as usual, I tried to analyse and predict their relationship and behaviour patterns. Of course, I was both taken aback and delighted when I was mistaken on so many levels but most of all, I adored the depths of darkness, disbelief and pure horror that I was taken to throughout the narrative through the actions of some of the characters.

Gorgeous Thailand, where Grace and Jack spend their honeymoon and where the first of many secrets are slowly revealed.

There seem to be a sheer exodus of books out there at the moment that talk about the “perfect” marriage, ever since the huge success of Gone Girl. I’ve read quite a few and enjoyed the majority of them but do start to worry that the trope is being flogged a bit too much. It’s only when I read something like Behind Closed Doors that I realise that there are fresh, unique ways to tell the story of an *interesting* relationship without resorting to the same old tactics that we’ve read about before. I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to prepare yourself for a novel like this, it plunges into some very desperate, mind-boggling areas, explores the more troubling parts of the human psyche and keeps you questioning motives and back stories of particular characters. It’s a compelling page-turner that is considerably difficult to read in places and will have you thinking about THAT ending long after finishing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris was the thirty-seventh book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

The Curse Of Time (Bloodstone #1) – M.J. Mallon

Published July 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to the author for getting in touch via email and offering to send me a copy of her debut novel, the first in the Bloodstone series, The Curse Of Time in exchange for an honest review. The author is a fellow blogger and publishes a wide variety of posts including book reviews, author interviews, haiku poetry and snippets of her own writing life. Visit her website HERE. I’ve been in the mood for a good young adult fantasy for a while now and as soon as I read the synopsis, with the promise of a magical curse and a female lead character with a difficult past, I was instantly intrigued to get started. Generally, I found this to be a highly imaginative work of fiction with bucket loads of promise for both character and plot development. I have to admit it took me a little while to get into the flow and rhythm of the story, but once I was there, it was impossible to put the book down without becoming quite embroiled in a fascinating mystery.

M.J. Mallon, author of The Curse Of Time.

I don’t want to delve much deeper into the plot of this novel, the synopsis above does that more than adequately and the beauty of this story is definitely discovering all its secrets for yourself. I do want to touch on a few things that I really enjoyed and mention why I haven’t given it a higher rating. To begin with, I’d like to mention the characters which were perfectly drawn and enjoyable to read about. I particularly enjoyed our heroine, Amelina and Ryder (although the less said about this latter character the better, I believe saying anything would be giving away major spoilers!). Indeed, it was Ryder and Esme, the girl trapped in the mirror who were the most interesting aspects of this story for me. They both had an air of mystery, desperation, sadness and curiosity and were probably the most compelling reason for me wanting to read on. I also want to take a moment to mention the gorgeous illustrations in my copy of The Curse Of Time which really added something special to my reading experience and that I was delighted to share on my Instagram account, I was so entranced by them:

Esme And The Mirror by Carolina Russo – visit her website HERE.

As I alluded to earlier, the breadth of the author’s imagination is undeniable and I loved her foray into the powerful properties of crystals, the importance of friends and family and (one of my favourites) magical talking household objects! Who doesn’t love that? I also admired that she isn’t afraid to go to some dark places in her fiction, including dysfunctional relationships, self-harm, emotionally unhealthy relationships etc and this only served to make her narrative more gritty and authentic. My only slight issue with this book is that because so much seemed to be going on at once, occasionally the story felt a bit “busy” and everything just felt a little bit rushed where at times, I did struggle to catch up. Unfortunately, I did feel that sometimes the dialogue between the characters suffered at these points and became a little stilted which was a shame.

On the other hand, it did wonderfully illustrate the veritable explosion of great ideas M.J. Mallon has and certainly no one could ever accuse this novel of being dull or lacking in originality. If you’re a fan of fantasy/magical-based narratives that walk on the slightly darker side of life I would definitely suggest The Curse Of Time as an intriguing read from a hugely promising author.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Curse Of Time was the thirty-fifth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

Published July 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef.

This is his story.

We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to it and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.

Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.

Passionate love, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, but his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.

But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.

What did I think?:

The Last Banquet, translated by Maria Maestro was recommended to me on a reading spa I went to at the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights with Chrissi Reads. To be honest, considering that eye-catching cover, it’s the sort of book that would have intrigued me enough to pick it up but I’m not sure on the synopsis alone whether I would have been compelled to follow through and read it. Luckily, the book-seller who encouraged me to give it a try was incredibly persuasive and I became excited to find out what it was all about. To be fair, the intricate details of the narrative within this novel haven’t completely stayed with me but generally, this book is a literary marvel. The way it’s written is so sumptuously detailed that for any lovers of language, it’s truly a joy to read. It’s not for the faint-hearted, (which I’ll go into a bit later) but it’s a surprisingly compulsive read and I found myself hanging on every word the author had written, the sure sign of a hooked reader!

Jonathan Grimwood, author of The Last Banquet.

In a nutshell, The Last Banquet focuses on one male lead, Jean Marie Charles d’Aumout who is found by the Regent of France in the late 1700’s on a roadside feasting on some beetles whilst his parents lie dead in a looted house nearby. The Regent takes pity on the young boy and takes him under his wing, sending him to a school and then to a prestigious military academy where he mixes with the aristocracy. This is the story of how Jean Marie rises from a penniless existence to the ranks of the wealthy as he takes his fascination that began with tasting beetles to whole new levels, continually on the quest for a more interesting and exclusive taste. Meanwhile, the French Revolution looms terrifyingly in the background, threatening the rich and entitled, and Jean Marie begins to understand the true nature of love and trust.

Our story covers the period of the French Revolution from 1789-1799.

This was such an interesting novel that I really didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I eventually did. From the very first moments, when we are introduced to Jean Marie eating stag beetles at the side of the road, I was instantly curious to see how the story was going to play out and of course, completely disgusted! My mum actually tells a story of when I was a young girl and she pulled half of a stag beetle from my mouth: (“It’s back legs still wriggling!” she delights in telling me!) and I don’t even want to think about where the rest of that beetle went! UGH. The fact that I find all kind of insect life absolutely grotesque in my adult years means that I wonder now whether the taste of that beetle put me off for life? Haha! Anyway, our lead character certainly doesn’t have any problems in that department regarding tasting the weird and wonderful. He will try anything and everything, despite the species and this is where my warning in the first paragraph comes into effect. If you think you might be slightly queasy regarding this subject, be warned indeed. Included in the text are multiple recipes for Jean Marie’s concoctions, including graphic details on how exactly they should be cooked.

Some parts are horrible, I have to admit but at the same time, the dark side of my brain was fascinated by his life, his strange obsession for new tastes (which does stray into the sexual as an adult as well), and how his happiness seems to hinge on this very unique quest of his. It is an odd book in this regard and I think you have to be pretty open-minded to see past this slight freakishness and appreciate the novel for what it is – something a bit different which is beautifully written and definitely has an edge over other books in the genre. The author did go to some unconventional places, that’s for sure but you know what? I actually respect and admire him all the more for being brave enough to do that and writing a book that I’m more likely to think about and want to re-visit years down the line. Despite our male lead’s quirks, he is an endearing and engaging character and because you follow him from such a young age and see his rise in society, you really want to know how it’s all going to turn out for him.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Love And Death In Shanghai by Elizabeth J. Hall

Published July 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A young man’s search for love in Shanghai, set during a time of gang warfare, drug running, prostitution and Japanese invasions.

“This is a riveting account of a compelling and erotic story.” Jill Dawson, author of The Great Lover

Shanghai 1924. Sam Shuttleworth joins the Municipal Police to escape his working class roots in Lancashire. He is looking for good pay, adventure and beautiful women.

Shanghai is torn by gang warfare, political instability and violence. After erotic affairs, and seeking stability, he marries his glamorous Russian lover. The relationship is tumultuous, with infidelities on both sides.
In the 1930s, Japan invades China and moves into Shanghai with consequent pillage, rape and cruelty. Sam has to negotiate between warring sides, and wonders if he will ever find peace amidst the chaos of his relationships and the bloody events of his career.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for emailing me and inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for kindly sending me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. I have to say the synopsis of this novel had me instantly intrigued to read it. I’m always a huge fan of a story set in another country, especially China which I have a particular soft spot for. Then if you throw in a historical setting, a character struggling with the instability of the country and the Japanese invasion of the 1930’s, it’s pretty much a sure thing that I’m going to want to read it! Generally, this novel was a sumptuous fictional imagining of characters and events that occurred within the author’s own family and this only served to make it a more authentic and fascinating read. It was beautifully descriptive and so detailed that I could almost imagine I walked the same streets as our lead character and those he comes into contact with.

Elizabeth J. Hall, author of Love And Death In Shanghai.

Lancashire born and bred Sam Shuttleworth escapes to Shanghai with a sense of adventure and to try and live and work in a culture so incredibly different from his own. He lands a job as a police officer in Shanghai and is tasked with keeping peace in the very fractured city between a number of different gangs, communist and nationalist uprisings, petty arguments that become violent, murderous acts due to the general instability and uncertainty of the country and the eventual Japanese invasion that changes everything irrevocably for the inhabitants of Shanghai. He has a number of affairs as a single young man then meets a few individual women that each alter his outlook on life forever, in very different ways. He finally begins to learn that work and having a good time outside of work means nothing if you don’t have the support of a loving family behind you.

Love And Death In Shanghai is a perfect title for this novel. It does exactly what it says on the tin. There are erotic, even more graphic moments which I wasn’t quite expecting, but luckily, they don’t overwhelm the reader and the narrative is much more focused on the dark side of Shanghai and how our male lead has to cope with the horrifying and shocking things that he has to see every day, things that most inhabitants take in their stride. Some of it did make for difficult reading but I’m so pleased the author had the courage to go there and show us the real, very brutal Shanghai in the 1920′-30’s. I was also fascinated to read about the stark contrast between these poorer, crime-led areas and the rich side of Shanghai where food, drink and entertainment was in abundant supply for those who could afford it, of course.

1930’s Shanghai, where part of our story is set.

I found the characterisation of this book extremely intriguing and I’m not sure if other readers would have the same or different opinions to mine. Let me explain what I mean – I didn’t find there were many likeable characters in this novel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I love an unreliable character, a person with flaws, an intensely horrible one that you can have strong hateful feelings towards….all these things are great. However, I didn’t know how to feel about our male lead, Sam. At times I loved his bravery and nobility, in fact my favourite moments of his is when he was back in England for a visit seeing his family where I felt the real “Sam” came out. It was just all the affairs though. Fair enough when he was a single man of course, he has no responsibilities or attachments, but then he meets Lulu, discovers what responsibility really means and er…..doesn’t really change!

As I’m working this all out in my head as I’m writing, I’m considering the fact that perhaps Sam just hasn’t met the “one” in Lulu, they certainly seemed to have quite a volatile relationship and although I can’t really excuse his behaviour, there is an opportunity for them to have mutual contentment by the end. I don’t want to go too much into the ending for fear of spoilers, I felt it quite bitter-sweet but entirely accurate and I have to be honest, I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Elizabeth J. Hall writes a comprehensive and exquisite tale of a country in turmoil, I loved the attention to detail and appreciated the vast research that must have been completed to tell a compelling story.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Elizabeth J.Hall works in politics in the UK. Love and Death in Shanghai, her debut novel was inspired by the life and death of her uncle who worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s and 30s. Elizabeth’s first memory is of her mother crying when she received a telegram reporting his assassination.

Elizabeth lives in East Sussex with her husband. After a degree in French, she trained as a teacher with a particular interest in social and health education. She worked in the USA, West Africa and London before becoming a consultant, developing programmes of health education abroad, including Central Asia and Russia.

Find Elizabeth on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17679768.Elizabeth_J_Hall

Elizabeth’s website is http://www.elizabethjhall.com/

Thank you once again to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Love And Death In Shanghai was published on the 18th January 2018 and is available as a paperback and an e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Love And Death In Shanghai on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38352086-love-and-death-in-shanghai

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Death-Shanghai-Elizabeth-Hall/dp/1999784278/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Published May 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

What did I think?:

If you haven’t read this book yet and have been umming and aahing about picking it up, please finish your current read and read it next! I put off reading this book for the longest time, even after it won the Costa Award for Best Debut Novel and even still when it was long-listed for The Women’s Prize For Fiction this year. I have heard so many rave reviews and sometimes all the hype can make me steer clear of a book rather than gravitating towards it. After all, what if it isn’t as good as everyone says? What if I’m the lone wolf in a sea of popular opinion? I’m delighted to tell you, I’m most definitely a sheep. I ADORE THIS BOOK. Janel from Keeper Of Pages (please follow her, she’s one of my blogger bezzies and a wonderful reviewer!) finally convinced me to pick this novel up in our second buddy read this month and like The Fireman last month, we both can’t speak highly enough of it. Please check out her awesome review HERE. This novel has the strange accolade of being heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. It made me laugh, it brought me close to tears and finally, now I see what all the fuss is about.

Gail Honeyman, author of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

So, is Eleanor Oliphant Completely Fine? Well, no she’s not. You know that very British thing that most of us do when we’re feeling rubbish and yet someone asks us how we are and we say: “Fine, thank you,” when we’re clearly not?! This is poor Eleanor. Her life consists of working nine to five, five days a week in an accounting firm in Glasgow. She barely interacts with anybody except to do her job and her social awkwardness and blunt way of speaking does not endear her to her co-workers. In fact, she becomes quite the figure of fun. As soon as Friday hits, Eleanor grabs a couple of bottles of her favourite vodka, shuts herself up in her house and doesn’t speak to another living soul until Monday morning when the whole cycle starts again. This is until she meets Raymond who works in IT at her company and they both help a stranger when he falls ill in public. From here on, Eleanor’s life changes dramatically and will never be the same again. She begins to realise she is not in the slightest “fine,” and never wishes to be so miserable or lonely again.

Glasgow, Scotland where our story is set.

I can’t even deal with how many emotions this book evoked from me. I felt an instant connection when I realised it was set in Scotland, as my veins do run blue with Scottish blood but besides the setting, this is such a stunning piece of debut fiction that it took my breath away. Beginning in quite a melancholy way, where we see the loneliness and hopelessness of our female lead’s life was gut-wrenching to say the least. However, then it changes and the story is so very uplifting that it made me cheer silently multiple times as I got to know Eleanor, broke my heart for her, rooted for her and at the end, felt real and definite hope for her future. Eleanor is a complex character that really gets under your skin. Because of her past, she is not aware of the intricate niceties of interacting with other people and can come across rude, abrupt and brutally honest.

I couldn’t believe some of the things that she came out with sometimes, there were plenty of laughs but I remember at the same time shaking my head in disbelief and sadness at her naivety when facing the modern world. Things like smartphones, going to gigs and getting her nails done are big deals for Eleanor and as she continued to force herself into new, sometimes scary situations, I couldn’t help but smile at the endearing nature of it all. You don’t find out what has happened in Eleanor’s past until quite late on in the novel and although Janel and I desperately wanted to know what had gone on with her, I completely believe this was the perfect way to structure the book. You fall in love with Eleanor first as a character and it only makes it more heart-breaking when the trauma of her past is finally revealed in full, horrific detail.

Please do me a favour and read this book if you haven’t already. Eleanor is such a special character and both her and her story will play on my mind for a long while to come.

Thank you once again to Janel for an amazing buddy reading experience!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S