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Mini Pin-It Reviews #24 – Four Books From Netgalley

Published September 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four books from Netgalley for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) Me, Myself And Why: Searching For The Science Of Self – Jennifer Ouellette

What’s it all about?:

As diverse as people appear to be, all of our genes and brains are nearly identical. In Me, Myself, and Why, Jennifer Ouellette dives into the miniscule ranges of variation to understand just what sets us apart. She draws on cutting-edge research in genetics, neuroscience, and psychology-enlivened as always with her signature sense of humor-to explore the mysteries of human identity and behavior. Readers follow her own surprising journey of self-discovery as she has her genome sequenced, her brain mapped, her personality typed, and even samples a popular hallucinogen. Bringing together everything from Mendel’s famous pea plant experiments and mutations in The X-Men to our taste for cilantro and our relationships with virtual avatars, Ouellette takes us on an endlessly thrilling and illuminating trip into the science of ourselves.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) Land Where I Flee – Prajwal Parajuly

What’s it all about?:

To commemorate Chitralekha Nepauney’s Chaurasi – her landmark 84th birthday – Chitralekha’s grandchildren are travelling to Gangtok to pay their respects.

Agastaya is flying in from New York. Although a successful oncologist at only thirty-three he is dreading his family’s inquisition into why he is not married, and terrified that the reason for his bachelordom will be discovered.

Joining him are Manasa and Bhagwati, coming from London and Colorado respectively. One the Oxford-educated achiever; the other the disgraced eloper – one moneyed but miserable; the other ostracized but optimistic.

All three harbour the same dual objective: to emerge from the celebrations with their grandmother’s blessing and their nerves intact: a goal that will become increasingly impossible thanks to a mischievous maid and a fourth, uninvited guest.

Prajwal Parajuly – the son of an Indian father and a Nepalese mother – divides his time between New York and Oxford, but disappears to Gangtok, his hometown in the Indian Himalayas, at every opportunity. Land Where I Flee is his first novel.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

3.) Joy, Guilt, Anger Love: What Neuroscience Can And Can’t Tell Us About How We Feel – Giovanni Frazzetto

What’s it all about?:

Is science ever enough to explain why we feel the way we feel?

In this engaging account, renowned neuroscientist Giovanni Frazzetto blends cutting-edge scientific research with personal stories to reveal how our brains generate our emotions. He demonstrates that while modern science has expanded our knowledge, investigating art, literature, and philosophy is equally crucial to unraveling the brain’s secrets. What can a brain scan, or our reaction to a Caravaggio painting, reveal about the deep seat of guilt? Can ancient remedies fight sadness more effectively than antidepressants? What can writing poetry tell us about how joy works? Structured in seven chapters encompassing common human emotions—anger, guilt, anxiety, grief, empathy, joy, and love—Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love offers a way of thinking about science and art that will help us to more fully understand ourselves and how we feel.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) The Transcriptionist – Amy Rowland

What’s it all about?:

This powerful debut follows a woman who sets out to challenge the absurdity of the world around her. Lena, the transcriptionist, sits alone in a room far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the Record, the New York City newspaper for which she works. For years, she has been the ever-present link for reporters calling in stories from around the world. Turning spoken words to print, Lena is the vein that connects the organs of the paper. She is loyal, she is unquestioning, yet technology is dictating that her days there are numbered. When she reads a shocking piece in the paper about a Jane Doe mauled to death by a lion, she recognizes the woman in the picture. They had met on a bus just a few days before. Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to deliberately climb into the lion’s den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will destroy the Record’s complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation. An exquisite novel that asks probing questions about journalism and ethics, about the decline of the newspaper and the failure of language, it is also the story of a woman’s effort to establish her place in an increasingly alien and alienating world.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI-PIN IT REVIEWS: Four YA Novels.

 

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The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish – Allan Stratton

Published July 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.

William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.

What did I think?:

I honestly don’t quite know where to start with this review and I’ve spent some time mulling over the book since finishing it and am still none the wiser on how to get some coherent thoughts down to express the complexity of mixed feelings I have about this novel! The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish is a book that has been languishing on my Netgalley “to read” list for quite a long time now and as I’m making a concerted effort to improve my Netgalley ratio this year, I thought it was about time I read it. As soon as I reminded myself of the synopsis, I have to say I was excited. The Great Depression, 1930’s Hollywood and a normal girl who becomes an overnight sensation after bringing a young boy back to life after just putting her hands on him? Yes please, I’ll have some of that.

Allan Stratton, author of The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish.

Excuse me while I’m still formulating my thoughts. Okay, so this novel had so much promise and at times, was executed absolutely wonderfully, then there were other times where I felt the narrative dragged unnecessarily and that was a real shame. It divided me so much that at times I wanted to give it three stars, at times four stars, most of the time somewhere in between at three and a half stars and very occasionally, two stars. I struggle to recall a time in the recent past where a book has twisted my opinion this much and to be frank, I’m still attempting to work out why. There were so many positives – the plot which INSTANTLY made me want to read it, the wry humour and satire which did make me smile on multiple occasions and the way in which the author explored the idea of religion, society and morals, especially after an event as life-changing as The Great Depression.

The Great Depression, 1930’s America.

In fact, this novel got off to a terrific start, following our heroine Mary Mabel McTavish as she leads a humdrum slave-like existence with a distant and occasionally cold father and the reader feels her despair at life and misery over the loss of her mother and the blase attitude of her only other caregiver. Her attempted suicide is prevented at the last minute with a hallucination of her mother’s ghost and a feeling of power that she in turn, bestows on a young boy, Timmy Beeford, bringing him back to life and returning a slightly exasperating little human to his weary parents. This was all great and incredibly intriguing to read about. I think things went downhill for me when people start to capitalise on Mary’s powers and use her abominably in order to make money of their own. It was humorous at points sure, but there were times when I just wanted to shake Mary and open her eyes as to how she was being manipulated.

I think the two saving graces time and time again in this narrative were the owner of The Bentwhistle Academy For Young Ladies, Ms Bentwhistle who did make me howl with laughter at times, especially when she decides to pull the wool over the Americans’ eyes in pretending she’s one of the gentry. Obviously, she’s intended to be a shady, rather villainous character compared to our heroine but by the end of the novel, I just found her hilarious. Then there was our avid preacher, Brother Percy Brubacher who is incredibly odd (and a little scary!) but hugely fascinating and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with him and explore his back story in greater detail. Sadly, apart from these two, most of the other characters, even our female lead felt decidedly two-dimensional and unbelievable and this did affect my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Hope this review made some kind of sense – if I had to sum it up I would say interesting premise, a few brilliant characters and good use of humour but at times the characterisation and plot suffer from peaks and troughs. This unfortunately means that at times the story drags and becomes much less compelling.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish was the thirty-sixth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

 

April 2018 – NetGalley/ARC Month (and my first buddy reads!)

Published April 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Chrissi Cupboard Month where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (and that’s a lot!). Then there’s Real Book Month where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves (also a LOT!) Finally, there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (A LOT!) April is going to be one of the latter months and here’s what I’m looking forward to getting to this month:

The Curse Of Time (Bloodstone #1) – M.J. Mallon (with kind thanks to the author)

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.

Drift Stumble Fall – M. Jonathan Lee (with kind thanks to the publisher, Hideaway Fall)

What’s it all about?:

The author of five novels, M Jonathan Lee is a tireless mental health awareness campaigner, working closely with organisations including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink and blogs regularly for Huffington Post. Having personally experienced anxiety and depression during his life, Jonathan draws on his experiences to inform his writing.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.

Savages: The Saint-Etienne Quartet Volume 1: The Wedding – Sabri Louatah (with kind thanks to Corsair publishers)

What’s it all about?:

A Saturday in May. Paris.

It’s the eve of the French presidential elections – ‘The Election of the Century’ say the newspaper headlines – and Chaouch, the nation’s first Arab candidate, has victory in his sights. It has been a long campaign, and with his wife Esther and daughter Jasmine by his side, he spends the remaining hours with close advisors in a hotel in Nimes. Much of the dinner table chatter revolves around Jasmine’s boyfriend; Fouad Nerrouche, a well-known actor with the same Algerian origins as her father, who has just publicly endorsed Chaouch’s candidacy. However shallow it may seem, it’s difficult to ignore the influence of celebrity support in this complex and unpredictable race . . .

The same day. Saint-Etienne.

The Nerrouche family is frantically preparing for a grand wedding, and Fouad himself is there to help out. But younger cousin Krim – who has recently lost his job – is becoming increasingly agitated, and no one knows why. As the day goes on, it becomes clear that the cousin’s problems go far deeper than unemployment. Krim has been stealing from a local gang leader and after being discovered, found himself indebted to his powerful cousin, Nazir – Fouad’s brother. Nazir is a very shady figure, and is heavily involved in a dark underworld of crime. Together, their plans will cause Fouad’s two very different worlds to meet in a way no one would have dared to imagine. Within a few hours, the threads start to unravel, and the collision between the destiny of a family and the hopes of a country becomes inevitable.

With the pacing of a thriller, Louatah melds the tense atmosphere of a family saga with the gripping suspense of a political drama into one breathtaking read.

The Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill (with kind thanks to Sphere Publishers, via NetGalley)

What’s it all about?:

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS…ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE…ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried …until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake – the perfect new addiction for fans of Luther.

Happily – Chauncey Rogers (with kind thanks to the author)

What’s it all about?:

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, 
make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish – Allan Stratton (with kind thanks to Dundurn Publishers)

What’s it all about?:

It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.

William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.

My Sweet Friend – H.A. Leuschel (with kind thanks to the author)

What’s it all about?:

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

So that’s most of what I’ll be reading in April. If you’ve followed me for a while, you will know that I will also be reading my banned book and my kid lit for the month (both challenges that I carry out with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads) and anything else I manage to squish in will count as part of my Mount TBR Challenge 2018. Luckily, I can also use quite a few of the titles on this April TBR as I received them before January of this year. Oops.

This month I’m also very excited as not only will I be collaborating with my sister as usual but for the first time, I’ll be doing buddy reads with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages and Stuart from Always Trust In Books. They are both fantastic bloggers and you’re probably following them already but if you don’t, you totally should they’re amazing. I keep up with both of their sites on an (almost) daily basis and I hugely admire both of them. With Janel, I am continuing my love affair with Stephen King’s son by reading The Fireman by Joe Hill and Stuart and I are going to tackle the young adult book Scythe by Neal Shusterman which I’ve heard some terrific things about. Hopefully this can be the start of many more buddy reads, I really am very excited about it!

Finally, I have to mention that I’m going on holiday for two weeks from Wednesday April 11th so apologies if I’m slow to share your posts or comment on them (or indeed, reply to my own comments if you’re kind enough to leave me some!). I’m going to attempt to schedule some posts written in advance but probably won’t be able to get enough for one to go out every day of the two weeks so posts might be a bit erratic for now until the end of April! I’m not taking my laptop but hey, the hotel has Wi-Fi so I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up with what everyone else is posting.

Anyway, hope everyone has a wonderful reading month and I’ll speak to you all soon.

Love Beth xx

The Coffin Path – Katherine Clements

Published February 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’t it all about?:

The Coffin Path is an eerie and compelling seventeenth-century ghost story set on the dark wilds of the Yorkshire moors. For fans of Michelle Paver and Sarah Waters, this gothic tale will weave its way into your imagination and chill you to the bone.

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Headline publishers and Caitlin Raynor for allowing me to read a copy of this eerie, fascinating novel, set on the Yorkshire moors in the seventeenth century via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love a good ghost story but haven’t read one in quite some time and definitely haven’t read one that gripped me as much as the story of Mercy Booth and her moors filled with sheep did. It’s an incredibly atmospheric novel and I could visualise the moors that Mercy lives on and the sheep that are in her care in full, glorious detail. The house that she lives in with her father and housekeeper becomes almost a character unto itself with the number of secrets it keeps and the strange noises that have started to emanate from a locked bedroom within the house, terrifying residents and visitors alike.

Our story begins with Mercy tearing out into the inclement weather to assist a ewe who is struggling to give birth to her lamb (more on this scene later) and from there we learn about Mercy’s life, an independent young woman who has taken most of the work of looking after her family’s flock from her father as his health, strength and mind begins to fail. She is determined, strong and fiercely loyal to her family’s business and probably knows as much or indeed more about looking after sheep than her head shepherd does. The novel follows her life as they take on a mysterious new worker, stranger to the town Ellis Ferreby, the family start to discover a number of mutilated sheep on the premises, precious things of her father’s go missing and there are aforementioned curious noises from the bedroom where a young boy once died. Meanwhile, all residents at the property are starting to get an odd sense that someone is watching them and wishes them ill. For what purpose? All will be revealed but the journey to get there might make you want to turn the lights back on if you’re reading this just before bed.

This novel has one of the most brutal and graphic beginnings I’ve ever read and although it doesn’t set the tone for what the rest of the book is going to be like (i.e. not so graphic) I’d seriously go into it with your stomach well fortified! Our main character, Mercy is birthing a lamb and in full, gory detail the process is described to the reader as Mercy struggles to save both the newborn and its mother. I’m lucky enough to have quite a strong stomach (must be the huge volume of horror tomes I’ve read in the past?), and as soon as I read this opening chapter I knew I was going to enjoy this book. Not so much for the content I hasten to add, but for the writing style, the setting and how Katherine Clements pulls you into Mercy’s world effortlessly, where not only can you visualise everything around her but you’re fighting her corner completely and hoping that she manages to save the animals from certain death.

The Coffin Path is very much a book that illustrates the sign of the times where poverty, superstition, rumours of witchcraft and fear of religion – that is to say, what would happen if you didn’t attend church are rife. The author portrays these attitudes and worries perfectly and it’s a fine historical account of what it might be like to live in England in these frightening times. Speaking of frightening, there’s passages of this narrative that I think will stay with me for a long time yet, it was incredibly creepy and disconcerting and there’s a particular fire screen that I don’t think I will ever forget! I loved the whole gothic nature of Mercy’s story and not only was her character written to perfection, instantly making me root for her but she was flawed, vulnerable and undeniably human which I adored. I’m not going to talk about the ending too much but let me just say, if you like being shocked you’re in for a treat here. Unfortunately, I kind of guessed parts of the “big reveal,” but luckily, not everything surrounding it and it was a fantastic way to finish off an engrossing and thrilling novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements was the eleventh book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Holding – Graham Norton

Published January 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Graham Norton’s masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for approving me on NetGalley to read a copy of Graham Norton’s debut novel, Holding in exchange for an honest review. In the UK, Graham is a well respected television  and radio presenter, comedian, actor and now writer and he’s probably one of my favourite people in the public eye at the moment. That means when I heard he was writing a novel of course I was desperate to read it and at the same time a bit worried because I love him as a personality so much. In the end, I have to be honest and say I was a little disappointed with this novel unfortunately. (*hides from barrage of stones from angry Graham Norton fans*). It’s quite a cosy little mystery, yet surprisingly serious at times and I do think that a lot of people would enjoy it which is quite evident from the number of positive ratings on GoodReads. However, it just fell short for me plot-wise and wasn’t thrilling enough to make me want to keep turning the pages.

The novel is set in a small village of Ireland which rarely has anything exciting or dramatic to recommend it. Even our main character, Sergeant PJ Collins has seldom participated in any police business we might normally associate with fighting crime, chasing perpetrators down streets, apprehending burglars, solving murders etc. Duneen is a sleepy, quiet village with a very low crime rate so PJ spends his days quite sedentary, watching over the community and comfort eating in his car. It is only when some skeletal remains are unearthed by some builders on a property and are thought to belong to the previous occupant, Tommy Burke who hasn’t been seen in quite a few years that PJ finally has a case he can really sink his teeth into. Old secrets are finally dug up, in particular regarding Tommy and two women who were in love with him, and PJ begins to realise that his little village, which he thought was so calm and unassuming has a lot more to hide than he originally believed.

There were a lot of positives to be taken from this debut offering from Graham Norton and certainly a lot of things that perhaps a different demographic of reader might enjoy. For instance, I did enjoy the character of PJ, a previously quite hapless, slightly inept and “stuck in his ways” police officer who was actually a really lovely man that just hasn’t had a decent break in life. The finding of old bones and a potential murder case on his patch is really the making of him as a character and I enjoyed his determined attempts to solve the mystery and interactions with other characters in the narrative. However, I did find his character to be probably the better developed ones in the story out of a myriad of other individuals that I didn’t feel were as fleshed out as they could have been. This was unfortunate as there were a number of characters, like Evelyn and Brid that had the possibility of being very intriguing and they just felt a bit flimsy in comparison.

I’m a bit wary of saying anything too negative about this novel as for me it wasn’t a bad story by any means. It’s pleasant, chugs along at quite a nice pace and has quite an interesting mystery at its centre. As I mentioned before, its got quite a lot of positive ratings on Goodreads so perhaps I just fall into that category of reader where it just didn’t touch me as much as it obviously touched other people. Perhaps I was expecting too much, knowing and loving the wonderful personality of the man that is Graham Norton but his writing just fell flat for me which was bitterly disappointing. Maybe the plot wasn’t intricate enough, I didn’t resonate with any of the characters and the “big reveal” wasn’t as spectacular as I had imagined it in my own mind BUT it has got some amazing reviews from other readers so I’m thinking it might be wrong reader in this particular case? Let me know if you’ve read it and what you think, I’d be interested to know.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Bookish Resolutions And Goals For 2018

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://msbookish.com/2015-goals-bookish-goals-for-the-new-year/

Hello everyone and welcome to a post that I don’t normally do but for some reason, I thought it might be nice to do for 2018. I don’t normally like to make too many rules and regulations for my blog but due to the sheer volume of the books that I own, the back-list of reviews I still have to write etc. I thought it might be time to set some things down, just to give me some sort of direction for the year ahead. I’ve written down TEN major resolutions and then I’ve slotted in another FIVE general ones (just because once I started I found it quite difficult to stop…oops!) So, here we go!

1.)  Put less pressure on myself to blog every day.

I came a little way to doing this last year when I was ill. I did get to the stage where I just thought: “Oh *%$* it!” but there was still that residual guilt when I didn’t get a post done every day. 😦

2.) Gradually reduce review back-list by continuing to do mini-pin it reviews.

I came a long way doing this last year – to date I’ve done 16 mini-pin it reviews which means sixty-four books that were originally on my review back-list are GONE! Definitely will continue this.

3.) Use notebook to make notes on titles “currently reading” so when I come to review them, things are fresher in my memory.

I recently bought a lovely notebook from Faye at Daydreaming Designs and used it to compile this list and a few other things already this year in the attempt to make me a little more organised!

4.) Be honest with myself if I’m unable to take on a review title especially those requested by authors directly that are not really my cup of tea.

When I first started blogging, I used to love that authors requested me to read their books and used to accept EVERYTHING. Then I realised how stupid this was and that I couldn’t possibly do this and read the things I WANTED to read as well. I have got better at refusing review requests but need to stop feeling bad about it too.

5.) Be better about commenting on other bloggers reviews.

Again something I have got a little better with last year but I still perhaps don’t comment as much as I should. Sometimes I think I’ve got nothing else to say except “Great review!” but even if I just say that it’s letting the blogger know I enjoyed their post.

6.) Attend more bookish events/author talks.

I love doing this and unfortunately chronic illness slows me down in this A LOT. I work in London and there is the potential to attend events after work however if I do that and get home late I’m likely to knacker myself for work the next morning. However, once in a while wouldn’t hurt!

7.) Continue with “Shelfie by Shelfie” meme and hopefully encourage others to participate.

I’ve really enjoyed developing my little meme last year, something I thought I could never do. I have a lot of shelves so there are many, many more shelfies to come and hopefully I can inspire someone else to join in too.

8.) Experiment with making reviews a little “fresher” i.e. use of images relevant to post.

I love bloggers that use images/GIF’s which highlight their content and break up the text a little bit. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this myself but we’ll see how it goes…

9.) Read some of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

For example, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. Some of these books have been on my shelves/Kindle for FAR too long!

10.) Start doing some buddy reads/join an online bookclub.

I’ve never done a buddy read before and it looks like such fun! I already have tentative plans with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages to read The Fireman by Joe Hill this year so I’m really hoping that takes off. Just saying it right here, right now, if I mention a book and you’re open to a buddy read with me – let’s do it!

OTHER CHALLENGES:

  • Increase NetGalley ratio to a more acceptable level. – you don’t want to know my ratio…it’s shameful.
  • Participate in Mount TBR challenge. – I saw this on Jo’s Book Blog and it looks like a lot of fun!
  • Continue to enjoy Banned Books and Kid-Lit with Chrissi. – this should be easy, I’ve done this every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Richard And Judy book club picks. – also something I’ve done every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Daunt Books from annual subscription each month. – my wonderful boyfriend got me a Daunt Books Annual Subscription for Christmas so I get one new paperback each month. I’m determined to read and review them each month they come in. Let’s see how I do.

So everyone….

Image from: https://www.appbrain.com/app/wish-me-luck/com.Starlab.WML

 

The Art Of Hiding – Amanda Prowse

Published November 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Lake Union Publishing for auto-approving me on NetGalley for this contemporary novel, my first by Amanda Prowse and I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis and the fact that some of it was set in Southampton, a city I know very well through living there for about ten years, going to college and university and getting my first “proper” job out of university there and making some of the best friends I’ve had in my life. By and large I found this to be an enjoyable novel however I’m sorry to say I wasn’t blown away by the narrative. There is nothing wrong with the writing, it’s merely a case of personal preference and I know this book has some fantastic ratings on Goodreads from reviewers who have loved it so please don’t take my word as gold.

It’s the story of Nina, who lives a charmed and privileged life in a huge, luxurious house in an area where places to lives are much sought after and the quality of life is excellent. Her two boys, Connor and Declan attend private school, are doing well academically and have vast numbers of friends. Basically, they are all deliriously happy in their lives and you can almost smell the imminent tragedy just waiting in the wings. Tragedy it certainly is, in the form of Nina’s husband Finn being killed in a car accident. He was the sole bread-winner in the house and took charge of all the finances but Nina isn’t too worried until she is given the devastating news that the family is actually millions of pounds in debt and almost everything they own, including their gorgeous house, has to be taken away from them in lieu of payment.

Nina and her sons are forced to leave their beautiful surroundings and exclusive school and move back to her childhood home, a council estate in one of the less affluent areas of Southampton. The rest of the story follows Nina and her boys as they struggle with their grief for their father, adjust to a completely new way of life where their next meal may not necessarily be the most opulent of offerings and learn to pull together as a family and embrace this horribly difficult period of their lives. Nina herself must come to terms with the fact that she might not ever have really known her husband and learn how to be independent and stand on her own two feet, finding a job, loving and protecting her sons and learning how to make them all a happy family once more.

Let me assure everyone who might be dumbfounded that I didn’t enjoy this book that there are actually a lot of positive things about it and many reasons why other people will love it. Whilst I didn’t particularly warm to the character of Nina, I appreciated the horrific situation she found herself in and the strong moves that she made in order to protect her children, which obviously was going to be her number one priority. Also, there is a moment in the story where you think the author is going to take it a perhaps more obvious, clichéd way in terms of Nina meeting someone. I fully admit, I was all ready to roll my eyes and put the book down in disgust but she really surprised me. She didn’t make it an ultimate cheese-fest, she didn’t make it all about Nina finding another man and instead, deliberately made it much more about Nina looking out for her children, becoming a woman that doesn’t necessarily need to fall conveniently into another relationship. God, I appreciated that!

To be perfectly honest, I can’t say too many negative things about this book. I disliked Finn as a character intensely – I found him controlling and manipulative but my heart still broke a little bit for Nina as she began to see his true colours after his death and realise how much she had been missing out on as she stayed at home where she had little input in many situations. Personally, the mystery behind the huge debt that Finn accrued through the business and his death (which could have been seen as mysterious) wasn’t explored as much as I might have liked and I didn’t feel I connected with many of the characters. Mostly, I think this story was just missing a little something for me, a certain “oomph,” something I can’t quite put my finger on but it just meant that as I read it, I never felt particularly excited. I’d love to know what you think if you’ve read it, please feel free to disagree with everything I’ve said, after all we all get something different out of every book we read, right?

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art