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Blog Tour/Social Media Blast – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Published April 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

What did I think?:

This book comes with a little bit of a story behind it and if you’ve followed my blog for a little while now, you might be aware that I’m fond of a bit of a ramble, especially when it involves a book that surprises me beyond all expectations or that I feel passionately about. I first came across The Flatshare in a bloggers event late last year for Quercus where they were celebrating some of the fiction they were most excited to publish in 2019. Now, I am painfully honest about the fact that I tend to judge books pretty quickly – sometimes on the synopsis, sometimes on the cover and whilst I’m not completely adverse to a little bit of romance, it has to be done just right otherwise I can end up feeling rather nauseated. I saw The Flatshare and initially I have to admit, I thought this book wasn’t for me at all. As part of the sought after “uplit” genre, it looked slightly fluffy and I wasn’t certain about it at all.

Beth O’Leary, author of the debut novel, The Flatshare.

This is where publicists and marketing peeps are all kinds of wonderful. I had a lovely chat with Bethan Ferguson, Marketing Director at Quercus Books and she spoke about this book so passionately that I was completely sold. Thank you to her, Ella Patel for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Quercus Books for the complimentary copy which was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? I was blown away. The Flatshare is one of the most extraordinary and incredibly memorable books I’ve read this year and I connected with it in ways that I would never have expected prior to picking it up. I’m heartily ashamed of myself that I even considered letting it pass me by and eternally grateful for the opportunity to discover such a touching, amusing and feel-good novel that I’d be delighted to re-read again and again in the future.

What made The Flatshare so special? A few different things actually. Instantly, I was utterly charmed by both the characters and the author’s wry sense of humour but as the story continued, I appreciated the smaller details of the narrative, including the darker side of relationships and the importance of a strong support network. Tiffy and Leon became instant favourite characters of mine and I adored how we got to see challenging aspects of each of their lives and how their personal struggles are affected when they choose to open up and become vulnerable. There is a romantic element – sure, but it’s written in such a way that it becomes impossible to resist, melting this heart of mine that before now, I was convinced was starting to resemble a large, rather cold piece of stone!

Tiffy answers an advert for a room/bed in London to be shared with Leon yet the two seem destined never to meet as they work opposing shifts i.e. days versus nights.

Personally, there were points of this novel that I found quite challenging, mainly due to my own individual experiences with a specific man in my past. However (if this doesn’t sound too odd), this is one of the additional reasons why I want to rave about it so much. Readers need to find something in a novel to connect with to pronounce it a worthwhile, unforgettable experience. Obviously, that might be different for each reader, some might connect with the characters, the humour, or events that have happened in the characters lives that they themselves have gone through and relate to on an emotional level. For me, it was all these things combined that made The Flatshare such an engrossing and mesmerising affair. I experienced such an automatic click with the writing style and the delightful Tiffy and Leon that I tore through this novel in a very short space of time, gobbling up each word and momentous event with a ridiculous kind of fervour that I normally reserve only for my very favourite authors.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare it in my head to Bridget Jones’ Diary for a new generation. Although the plot and topics covered are not totally comparable, I could see the same humour, endearing characters and pivotal events that made Bridget Jones such a classic, well-loved piece of literature. The Flatshare is one of those wonderful books that sticks in your head. It makes you smile and leaves such a satisfying lump in your throat that was truly surprising, ESPECIALLY for a cynical, suspicious soul like myself! Please, don’t do a “me,” and think you know what this book is going to be about. You’d be wrong and I’d love you to give it a shot.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Find her on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13038484.Beth_O_Leary

on Instagram at: @betholearyauthor

on Twitter at: @olearybeth

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Flatshare is published on 18th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour/social media blast for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Flatshare on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36478784-the-flatshare?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to The Flatshare on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flatshare-Beth-OLeary/dp/1787474402/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=325SMIVPR2L7K&keywords=the+flatshare+beth+oleary&qid=1555615002&s=gateway&sprefix=the+flatshare%2Caps%2C338&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

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Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry (buddy read with Stuart from Always Trust In Books)

Published March 6, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

And now for something a bit different…

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special review on my blog. A little while ago, I participated in my first ever buddy read with Stuart who blogs over at Always Trust in Books (and is an awesome blogger so you should all go follow him if you don’t already!). So far we’ve read the first two books in the brilliant Arc Of A Scythe series by Neal ShustermanScythe and Thunderhead and we’ve read a little non-fiction too – Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt. In December we read The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton more recently we dived back into the world of Neal Shusterman in his collaboration with his son Jarrod which resulted in the novel Dry.

Stuart and I ummed and aaahed for a little bit about how we wanted to review our books – individually or more of a collaboration and he had the brilliant idea of capturing our Twitter chat and then including it as part of our review. So please find here before our thoughts and feelings about Mythos at the moment of reading it. If you’re worried about spoilers, never fear! Stuart and I deliberately kept the juicier parts of the narrative very vague so if you haven’t read this yet, no big secrets are given away.

What did WE think?:

Stuart: All finished and ready for Mythos! How about 3 parts this time? P129, p273 and finish?

Beth: Great plan! See you soon 👍🏻

Stuart: Is it just me or are you reading it as if Stephen Fry is saying it as well? 😂

Stuart: He had me at palaeoanthropological!

Stuart: ‘It screws with the head, but there it is’. Classic Fry!

Beth: Just about to start, very excited! I think I might have a different edition to you – p129 for me is halfway through a story. Do you mean up to the part beginning The Punishments? 🤔

Beth: Ooh a map and a family tree!

Beth: Seminal semantic semiology from the semen of the sky?! 😂 I love how his voice comes across!

Stuart: P129 for me is the page after the pictures section. Maybe p131 is better?

Beth: That’s perfect! 👌🏻

Stuart: ‘I will shout in triumph, just to annoy that prick Poseidon’ 😂 another quality Fry translation!

Stuart: I am ready. We always get the most interesting stopping points. Zeus is pissed!

Beth: I know – oooh he does NOT want to piss Zeus off!! How are you finding it so far? Did you know anything about Greek mythology prior to reading this?

Stuart: I knew of quite a few of the Olympians like Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, Hephaestus and such. I also knew the other collectives like the fates and furies. I had no idea how it gelled together though. I couldn’t believe the creations of Aphrodite, Athena and Hermes though. Fry is just class through and through. I want him to narrate everything 😂.

Beth: He absolutely should! What you said at the beginning was so true – it reads almost as if he’s in the room with you, it’s fantastic! I studied Greek mythology for a little while at school

but it was a long time ago and we didn’t cover everything. There’s certainly brand new parts for me that I really enjoyed like how the honeybee got its sting! 🐝 I was a bit worried at the start because it seemed to be name after name and was quite overwhelming but now it’s more about the stories I’m really enjoying it. 😁

Stuart: It is a lot to take in, I completely agree. I am going to have to read this multiple times I think to solidfy it into my memory. I am enjoying the imagery of the myths and lore but its Stephen Fry’s approach to the material that makes this book amazing for me. Its almost a soap opera but with all the Fryisms you could ask for.

Beth: Yes! Just the little one liners and the way the gods have conversations with each other that just shriek of Fry’s classic humour. He’s such a legend. What do you think of the gods themselves. That Zeus is a bit of a one isn’t he? 😂

Stuart: I find the idea of each generation of leader being destined to be destroyed or overpowered by their children an interesting concept. I think all the loop holes and accidents that create natural occurences to be compelling. Like the Honey Bee or the Cyclopes bringing thunder and lightening with them. Having a divine explanation for each and every element of existence instead of just saying, yeah God created it. I am interested in the God side of things bit I am more looking forward to the demi-gods and creatures that will hopefully pop up. Medusa got a fleeting mention but I hope Fry will pick that up again later. What is one thing you want to gain from reading this book?

Beth: Yes I love the story of Medusa, looking forward to that one. I really enjoy all the different monsters, my favourite is probably Theseus and the Minotaur but I think Fry suggested this might be covered in the Heroes book? 🤔 I think I’d like to re-discover my love for Greek mythology and also get a glimpse into how the Greeks have affected contemporary times, like the words we still use today. How about you?

Stuart: I want to learn more about how the Greeks developed language, art and story-telling through the worship of their gods. I find mythology fascinating and I am keen to flesh out my knowledge of how all of the Greek Legends fit together. Fry’s own passion for Greek lore is infectious, I think it is going to be easier and easier to get lost in this book!

Stuart: In a good way 😃

Beth: For sure. I’m really enjoying the pictures/sculptures too. I saw the Aphrodite Botticelli painting recently (in real life) and it was pretty amazing!

Stuart: Art is one thing I would definitely like to get more into. I could read about art and painters all day but I hardly get the opportunity to go out and visit a gallery. Shall we continue our excursion into the world of Greek Legends?

Beth: Yes let’s do it! See you soon. 👋🏻

Stuart: I’ve made it! How are you getting on?

Beth: I’m at the checkpoint too! Oh I’m loving Fry’s dry wit so much. Especially that last section with Death and the “Mwahahaha!” 😂

Stuart: He does add a great aesthetic to the individuals and how they come to interact with each other. The mid section is even more packed than the beginning! Pandora. Demeter. Humankind. Heart and Soul. What do you think so far?

Beth: I’m enjoying it! His flair with story-telling just adds to the myths themselves and makes them feel richer somehow and even a bit contemporary if that makes any sense? I was so pleased to see my favourite story in there – the one with Persephone but had forgotten how they brought the changing of the seasons into it. Have you got a favourite so far?

Stuart: Definitely Phaethon crashing Apollo’s chariot into the earth and creating the Sahara desert. Amazing imagery. With so many stories packed in here, there are so many to choose from. I really liked the healthcare section too and how close humanity got to immortality. It is hard to keep track of it all though. Well for me at least 😅

Beth: No definitely for me too! So many names and who is related to whom, I am finding that tricky. When he starts rolling off name after name I find my eyes start glazing over a bit until we get to another story. 😂 Like you said, I’m loving the parts that relate to our world now like the changing of the seasons and the misery unleashed from opening Pandora’s *jar* not box! 😆

Stuart: So glad it wasn’t just me. It’s great that you pick up on moments like the jar instead of the box because I totally do too. I took that bit of trivia and tucked it away in my brain for later 😂. I have to say that the greeks have some insane explanations for how the world came to be, mainly how humanity was reborn… I wonder what other disturbing events we have in store in the third act…

Beth: I totally did that for the trivia too haha!! 😂 I think we’ve got plenty of interesting things in store for us for the final section (probably more parts of Zeus’ body to bear children from?!) Shall we read till the end? 😁

Stuart: You can’t get better than a thigh baby though, can you? Let’s do it! See you at the end.

Stuart: Consistently inconsistent 😂. The third section was really good! I’m ready to talk!

Beth: Me too! Ah I’m kind of sorry it’s all over. 😓

Stuart: It’s okay, we have Heroes to look forward to in July 😃

Beth: That’s very true! 😁 What are your thoughts overall? For me it was quite nostalgic being reminded of my favourite Greek myths and I loved that I got to learn brand new ones. Yes all the names were a bit too much at times but his voice and sense of humour really made up for that.

Stuart: I was more aware of the actual gods and mortals than how they actually fit into the bigger picture. I got my greek mythology lessons from video games and movies but it was great to go right back the source. Stephen Fry did an impressive job of being both informative and passionate with the subject matter which can sometimes be difficult for writers. I’m just amazed about how much depth there is in this book!

Beth: Yes absolutely the effort he put into researching it was incredible. Did you pick up that he mentioned he studied Ancient Greek in the Afterword? It must be a topic he’s passionate about and that definitely comes across in the writing.

Stuart: Fry is a knowledgeable man and he breathes new life into these legends and adds up to date insights into how the mythology grew, expanded and translated over the centuries which is exactly what I was looking for. I was also looking for laughs from Fry and he delivered that as well. How did you get on with all the themes and tones of the writing. It got quite unabashedly explicit at times which Fry encouraged I think 😂. It is easy to believe that Ancient Greek Legends is where the substance and meaning of stories was born. Do you agree?

Beth: I certainly do! 😆 he brought far more personality and vibrancy to the Greek Gods than I ever could have imagined. I liked that he focused on a few different topics like what happens when the gods fall in love, get jealous etc. I was already familiar with the story of Arachne and what happens to her when she dares to challenge a goddess at weaving but Fry really made it come alive by the way he told it, making it a sadder tale than I remembered! 🕷🕸

Stuart: He really hit his stride in the last chapters of the book and I couldn’t get enough. Sisyphus and the boulder. Marsyas The Musical. Arachne the Weaver. Midus. The swallow and nightingale. Arion and the Dolphin (so good). I didn’t want it to end after hearing all of those tales back to back.

Beth: Aw I loved Arion and the Dolphin 🐬 especially what happened to those sailors in the end! I also thought the story of Echo and Narcissus was very sad. They seemed to have a story for all moods didn’t they?

Stuart: So much imagination and creativity is present in every single story here and it is hard not to be inspired. You’re right, a story for every mood. A lesson or warning for every reader. We owe our language and our ability to tell great stories from this culture and I couldn’t think of a better person than Stephen Fry to convey that in a charming and meaningful way that makes you want to know and understand these figures and stories better.

Beth: Perfectly put! 👍🏻 We’re going to be reading Heroes together right?! 😆

Stuart: Absolutely. Are you happy to wait till June 27th for the paperback release?

Beth: Oh yes. 😁

Here endeth the Twitter chat.

Final thoughts

I had Mythos on my radar for a while now, ever since I started hearing the buzz about it and then realised it was written by Stephen Fry whose personality and dry wit I just adore. As I mentioned in the Twitter chat, I studied Greek Mythology for a little while at school but hadn’t read anything for a while so I was excited to remind myself of my old favourite stories and satisfy my curiosity as to how Fry would put his spin on the classic myths. Well, from the very first moment, as we mentioned, it felt as if Fry was almost jumping off the pages towards us. His voice, intelligence and sense of fun came across beautifully and personally, I feel he brought a modern and rather unique flavour to these stories, making them accessible for a potentially brand new audience.

Stephen Fry, author of Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology #1)

There were parts of this book where it wasn’t all plain sailing but in the grand scheme of things, they’re such minor quibbles that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of Fry’s work in the least. Fry begins telling us the story of the Gods of Mount Olympus from the very beginning i.e. how the Earth came to be, the battles between the titans, the founding of the twelve principle Gods under the helm of head man, Zeus and even how humans were created (and occasionally messed around with!). This was all incredibly interesting and something I don’t believe I studied in much detail at school but I have to admit, there are a lot of names and intricate relationships to get to grips with initially and there were points where I felt quite overwhelmed by the amount of detail we’re given as a reader. However, please don’t let this put you off as once Fry gets into the meat of each individual story, it’s as juicy and riveting as you might expect.

Stand-out stories? I immediately go back to particular favourites that just became even richer on a second reading as an adult – primarily the story of Persephone and the god of the Underworld, Hades and additionally, the tale of Arachne the weaver and the proud goddess whom she manages to infuriate. I was also pleasantly surprised at the extra little mythological details Fry included like the reason behind the changing of the seasons, how the honeybee got its sting, why the spider spins a web, to name a few. The author makes this collection so much more special by including instances like imagined conversations between gods or gods versus humans where his unique and hilarious humour is allowed to shine through and makes the stories instantly more readable, relatable and almost up-to-date in their execution. Stuart and I enjoyed this collection so much that we’ve instantly agreed to read the second book in this series, Heroes together when it comes out in paperback in the summer and I’m eagerly anticipating another brilliant, illuminating book from the genius that is Stephen Fry.

Thank you to Stuart from Always Trust In Books for another amazing buddy read – check out his review on his blog at some point today!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Nonfiction November Week 1: My Year In Nonfiction

Published November 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the first weekly post of Nonfiction November! If you’d like to find out what it’s all about, please see my post yesterday where I revealed my Nonfiction November TBR. The host for this week is Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness (please see her post and all the links HERE) and the topic for this week is my year in nonfiction. Here’s the discussion question for this week:

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Here we go!

What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?

I think a good nonfiction book should be one that stays with you and continues to have an impact long after you’ve finished it so my answer for this will be I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death, a memoir by Maggie O’Farrell. It was a wonderful, hugely memorable read and I still continue to think about parts of it today. I actually listened to the audio version (which I also highly recommend) but received a physical copy as a gift after I had finished. I was delighted by this as it has a firm place on my favourites shelves and I will definitely be re-reading it in the traditional way in the future.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

I don’t think so, this year I have tended to stick to the topics I know I love like popular science – particularly anything that involves the brain, psychology, nature writing (especially animal-based) and feminism. However, I am open to trying new things and I’ve been particularly intrigued by the true crime genre after I read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: On Woman’s Obsessive Search For The Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara recently this year.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Apart from I Am, I Am I Am, I think I have (or would) recommend Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (review to follow shortly) or This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of A Junior Doctor by Adam Kay which is hilariously funny and a very illuminating read on the NHS currently.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November this year?:

I currently have two overflowing shelves of nonfiction that I’ve been woefully behind in getting to. I thought Nonfiction November was the perfect opportunity to clear some of my backlog and read some of that amazing nonfiction that I’ve been looking forward to for months (and in some cases, years!). I can’t wait to get started!

Thank you so much to Kim for hosting this week, I’ve really enjoyed taking part and looking back over my year in nonfiction so far!

Coming up next week on Nonfiction November Week 2 (hosted by Sarah’s Book Shelves) – Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing.

Blog Tour – Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston)

Published October 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village—the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams, and people struggling at turning points in their lives—chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for getting in touch and inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this darkly humorous novel in exchange for an honest review. Palm Beach, Finland is my first experience with Antti Tuomainen’s writing, although I do have one of his other novels, The Man Who Died which I included as part of my post, 18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018, which I promise to try and get round to very soon! However, now that I’ve read Palm Beach, Finland, it only makes me more determined to read something else by Tuomainen as I found his work to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, full of atmosphere, quirky offbeat humour and a very individual writing style.

Antti Tuomainen, author of Palm Beach, Finland.

On first impressions, this novel is about an undercover detective, Jan Nyman who is investigating a series of strange events near a new beach resort in Finland that began with a suspected burglary gone wrong and ended with a murder. Nyman is trying to figure out whether the death was accidental or pre-meditated, who carried out the crime and for what reason, however things become rather convoluted when he gets to the resort and meets the people who could be potentially involved. There’s a number of characters to get to grips with here, all with their own motives for murder, including the woman whose house the death occurred in, Olivia Koski, who is in a desperate situation financially and wants nothing more than to make the house she lives in habitable and safe. However, there are far more personalities on the outskirts of this small, unassuming town to discover and the reader soon realises that nothing in this novel can be assumed or predicted.

An example of one of the beaches in Finland, Yyteri near Pori.

Before I started reading Palm Beach, Finland, I gave the synopsis a quick glance but tried to go into the novel knowing as little as possible about it. I don’t normally do this as I like to have a snapshot idea in my mind about the content of a book before I dive in but for some reason, this new tactic of mine worked really well for this particular work. I was delighted to find an intriguing mystery, some fascinating characters and a sense of humour I could really get on board with. The plot was intricate with multiple twists and turns but luckily, it felt believable throughout and it did make me constantly want to turn the pages and find out what was going on.

As I alluded to in a previous paragraph, I don’t think you can predict the actions of any of our characters in this story and to be honest, that was probably one of my favourite things about it. They all felt quite whimsical and other-worldly in a way and I was constantly surprised by the way in which each individual became personally embroiled in the plot. It began as a relatively simple criminal act, blew up into something much more dangerous and then dragged each of our characters into its clutches one by one as it became increasingly messy and out of hand. I did find myself wishing that we got to know each character a lot better on a much deeper level as it seemed as if the novel relied quite heavily on the complexities of the plot combined with the humorous undertone but generally speaking, this didn’t affect my enjoyment level in the slightest.

I’m reading much more translated fiction this year and completely loving this experience. The translator for Palm Beach, Finland, David Hackston did a brilliant job of bringing this novel to an English speaking audience whilst still retaining the author’s unique idiosyncrasies and comic timing. I definitely want to be reading more from Antti Tuomainen!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary
debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was
published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the
Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key
Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of
Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style,
Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his
poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Find Antti on his Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142432.Antti_Tuomainen

on his website at: http://anttituomainen.com/

or on Twitter at: @antti_tuomainen

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Palm Beach, Finland will be published in October 2018 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Palm Beach, Finland on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42086762-palm-beach-finland

Link to Palm Beach, Finland on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Palm-Beach-Finland-Antti-Tuomainen-ebook/dp/B07DFQ2DVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538594419&sr=8-1&keywords=palm+beach+finland

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – SEPTEMBER READ – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Published September 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Living with his little brother, Fudge, makes Peter feel like a fourth grade nothing. Fudge is never far from trouble. He’s a two-year-old terror who gets away with everything–and Peter’s had enough. When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw.

What did I think?:

Apologies for the smaller image than normal regarding the book cover but I couldn’t resist including this particular cover as the headline picture for my post as I’m pretty certain this was the actual cover I owned when I was a youngster! For anyone who might not already know, I love Judy Blume with every fibre of my being. She was such an important part of my childhood, she taught me so much about adolescence and how to cope with it and I was even lucky enough to meet her in person a few years ago when she attended YALC, a young adult’s literature convention that happens in London on a yearly basis. Chrissi has had to put up with my gushing admiration for Blume over the years and luckily for me, didn’t get too embarrassed at YALC when I came face to face with my idol (and made a fool of myself by dropping down into a curtsey, I was so overwhelmed with happiness!). Yes, the less said about that the better I think.

Her Royal Highness Judy Blume, author of Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. Your majesty…

Chrissi was also incredibly gracious when I begged her to let me put some classic Blume on our Kid-Lit list this year and I’m so very glad that we did. Jumping back into her writing was so wonderfully nostalgic it made me feel all warm and cosy inside. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing is probably written for the younger readership, i.e. middle grade fiction but the enjoyment I got from it was second to none. I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that when Chrissi and I were growing up, our father was in the army and we lived in Germany for about thirteen years. At one point, we didn’t have access to many English bookshops – in fact, there was only a very small one about half an hour’s drive away and we went there about once a month to spend our pocket money. The rest of the time we had to make do with the local school library or re-reading the books we currently had so we spent a LOT of time doing that. As a result, my Blume collection was unsurprisingly very well thumbed, dog eared and a bit worse for wear from the amount of times I re-entered the world of Peter, Fudge and company.

As I started to read Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing as an adult, all the old feelings I had about this story came rushing back and some of them were truly precious. I remembered whole incidents that I had completely forgotten (for example, the little girl who wets herself at Fudge’s birthday party) but what was most remarkable to me is how little my views had changed on the characters since I read it as a child. Reading it back then, I remember being exasperated almost up to the point of tears with the character of Fudge. I felt terribly sorry for Peter as he struggled with his painfully annoying younger sibling and even went so far as to question his parents love for himself after, initially, Fudge appears to be blatantly getting away with everything. I wondered if as an adult, I would feel more sympathetic towards Fudge and understand his predicament slightly better – in other words, he’s a small child and doesn’t have the skills yet to realise the consequences of his actions. Of course, I DO realise that but I have to admit….I’m still team Peter. There’s something about Fudge that really irks me, I can’t put my finger on it.

I sympathised with Peter, being the oldest sibling myself and can remember those times in my childhood where the responsibility of looking after my two younger siblings seemed occasionally to be quite a huge cross to bear. If you’ve been there, you might be familiar with the frustration of being blamed for something your sibling does because as the oldest: “you should know better/you should have been looking out for them.” Maybe this was why I connected with Peter so much? Anyway, this is a beautiful little tale about the scrapes Fudge gets into, how it affects his older brother and how one devastating incident with a pet turtle called Dribble ends up bringing the whole family closer together again. I smiled, I groaned, I got emotional and I loved every minute.

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN OCTOBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Nightbirds On Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles #3) by Joan Aiken.

 

This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor – Adam Kay

Published September 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.

What did I think?:

I have been hearing about this book literally EVERYWHERE and it has been taunting me for months now, pleading to be read. At the moment and probably for the forseeable future, I work for the NHS as a scientist and come into contact with a lot of junior doctors, usually by phone when I’m giving out patient results. My mum also used to work for an NHS hospital as a nurse on an emergency surgery ward so she too is more than familiar of the importance of forging good relationships with doctors. You could say, as a family, we’re very aware of the crucial need for our health service and I was excited to read a book that would uncover an inner secret sanctum I may not have had complete and exclusive access to before. I actually listened to this book on Audible after recently getting into audiobooks as a way of reading more when I’m out and about and I couldn’t have picked a better first choice of book. This Is Going To Hurt is a no holds barred account of what it’s really like to work for the institution that is the NHS and deals frankly and hilariously with a variety of patients that Adam Kay has worked closely with as a doctor.

Adam Kay, author of This Is Going To Hurt, pictured here enjoying his own book!

This brilliantly funny work of non-fiction is told in the form of diary entries from when Adam was a junior doctor right the way through his career which ended when he was a senior registrar. Some diary entries are shorter than others but in each one, Adam’s dry wit and passion for what he was doing shines through and we hear fascinating tales of his work, mostly in gynaecology that have the power to make you laugh, shock and amaze you and by the end of his journey in medicine, irrevocably break your heart. Adam bares his soul in this memoir and doesn’t hold back from the grittier, nastier side of what it’s like to work as a doctor with the NHS in the current situation that it finds itself now – understaffed, underfunded and supremely underappreciated.

Honestly, what on earth did we do before the NHS?

Throughout this book, when I wasn’t laughing, I was filled with admiration and a new-found respect for the work that doctors do, the severe pressures they are under, the extended shifts that they work, the fatigue and stress that they must suffer and the walls that they have to put up to protect themselves in highly emotive and painful situations. Personally, I would have loved to have been a doctor but even if I had got the grades, reading This Is Going To Hurt only brought back to me what I had suspected about myself all along. I couldn’t do it. I’m a bit of a sensitive soul and the emotional aspect of the job, which is of course unavoidable, would be far too devastating for me to handle. As a result, I give an internal “high five” to EVERY doctor/nurse out there who deals with often heart-rending decisions on a daily basis.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the cases that Kay talks about for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t read this yet but let me assure you, some of the incidents that he recalls are forever etched in my mind, the mental imagery of some will probably never be erased! Obviously, patients have complete anonymity but I often wonder if the real-life patient behind the author’s case reads this book and cringes with embarrassment, recognising the resemblance to their own experience! He doesn’t shy away from detailed, descriptive passages and some recollections might be a bit too graphic for the queasier audience but I found his brutal honestly and candour both refreshing and fascinating. I particularly loved the sections where he bemoans the state and instability of the health service, the expectations placed on doctors and the alarmingly little time given to ensure doctors’ mental heath is being taken care of considering what they have to see and experience during a regular shift.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful and amazing this book really is if you’re in the mood for something that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. Curious about the experience of junior doctors in the NHS? Adam Kay strips it all back with unflinching honesty and everyone is invited in to observe.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story (The Lady Janies #1) – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Published August 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

What did I think?:

I chose this book as one of my recent Chrissi Cupboard Month picks because of the rave reviews I had heard about it, particularly from one of my favourite bloggers, Stephanie over at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction and of course, my sister whose opinion on books I trust implicitly. I’ve got to admit, I did keep putting it off, for two reasons which are both as silly as the other. The first is that I wasn’t completely sold on the cover (of the edition I have, please see image above) and I should know by now that judging a book by its cover is a very dangerous thing to do – who knows what you could be missing? Indeed, I’ve almost missed out on some amazing stories i.e. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes just because I mis-judged the cover and thought it would be something it wasn’t.

From top to bottom: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, authors of My Lady Jane.

The second reason (and probably the silliest) is that I’m a huge fan of the Tudor period of history and adore fiction re-telling lives of the real people in this moment of history, particularly in the style of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir. As a result, I’m very familiar and fond of the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey and the thought of it being re-written to be completely different from the actual history with a humorous edge didn’t sit well with me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable, goodness knows why? Now I’ve experienced all the joy, brilliance and wit that Hand, Ashton and Meadows have brought to this tale I am a fully fledged convert to these new imaginings of history and am thoroughly berating myself for leaving it so long before reading in the first place.

My Lady Jane is the story of the Tudor dynasty, particularly the point where Lady Jane Grey ascends to the throne of England, like you’ve never heard about it before. It’s a land where there’s two classes of people, those that can turn into animals, otherwise known as Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated) and then there’s those who can’t. There’s a reason why Henry VIII was compared to a lion, you know! There’s quite a bit of bigotry and prejudice against people who assume their animal forms and huge factions of the country are at war with the young King Edward struggling to maintain control of his kingdom. It also doesn’t help that he’s dying and the succession for the throne is becoming very hazy indeed, particularly as Edward is certain if he chooses his sister Mary, she will be all too delighted to extinguish every last Eðian in England. Edward is also attempting to marry his cousin, Lady Jane Grey off so her future will be secured but the groom in question, Gifford is unable to control his urge to turn into a stallion every evening as soon as the sun goes down. Then all three become embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy for the throne that threatens not only their own lives but the whole future of England.

A portrait of the “real” Lady Jane Grey, also known as the Nine Day Queen.

This book was so much fun! I immediately texted my sister about twenty pages in and told her just how much I was enjoying it and could almost hear her sigh of relief from over fifty miles away. No, it’s not in any way a true account of the life of Lady Jane Grey but that’s one of the reasons why this book is so exciting. It feels fresh, unique, incredibly different and was so light-hearted and hilarious, it was a pleasure to settle down with it whenever I had a minute. It felt like re-visiting characters you know and love, like Jane herself, Edward and his sisters Mary and Elizabeth but also it painted them in such a distinct, new manner that it felt like you were getting to know them all over again. Gifford was a very welcome addition to the pack (or should that be herd?!), I loved his excursions as a horse, the way he opens up ever so gradually and ultimately, the growth of his relationship with Jane which was nothing short of adorable.

I really wasn’t sure whether the fantastical edge was going to work for a story about the Tudors but the authors have pulled it off magnificently. As a huge animal lover myself, I always enjoy animals within narratives but to have characters that can turn into animals? My heart was so happy. This novel was both a huge surprise and an absolute delight to read and I was completely won over by the wonderful ridiculousness of the narrative and how easy it was to devour.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton and Meadows was the forty-second book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!