Friday, 14 July 2017

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Paperback, 548 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (first published October 2016)

Blurb:

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.





"There is a fire raging, and we have two choices: we can turn our backs, or we can try to fight it. Yes, talking about racism is hard to do, and yes, we stumble over the words - but we who are white need to have this discussion among ourselves. Because then, even more of us will overhear, and - I hope - the conversation will spread." - Jodi Picoult

My Review:

A few of my friends and I have started a little book group where we have chosen a few books each and are alternating each month between each others' choices. My friend Megan chose this book and I was initially a little reluctant to read it. I have read many books by Jodi Picoult in the past and I have enjoyed them all. However, I have found that they can be quite exhausting as they deal with such difficult issues. I didn't have that problem with this book. While it dealt with very difficult, relevant issues, I was engrossed and couldn't put the book down. When I finished I was left with my eyes open but not overwhelmed. This book deals with the fact that while race relations have improved massively in the last hundred years, there are still a lot of prejudices in society and outright racism in some circumstances which for the most part is ignored.

The story is split between three perspectives: Ruth, who is a midwife at the hospital where the baby died; Turk, the baby's white supremacist father; and Kennedy, the defence lawyer for the case. The author wrote with sensitivity from all perspectives. However, it was hard to stomach reading the sections from Turk's perspective. The outright prejudice and racism from him and those around him made me really angry while I was reading it. Ruth's perspective was enlightening as she encounters racism on a daily basis. Kennedy's perspective was also enlightening as she gets to know Ruth and is confronted with the harsh reality of the situations Ruth dealt with every day.  The relationship between Ruth and Kennedy was really interesting and I liked how it progressed through the novel.

In light of current events, it seems more important to me than ever to focus on the similarities between people rather than differences and to remember we are all human and have the right to expect the same treatment wherever we go.

Small Great Things is fast-paced and gripping. This is an incredibly moving and powerful story that has opened my eyes to the prejudices that still exist in our society today. I can't recommend this enough; it should be required reading! 5 out of 5.

About the Author:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-three novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - Blog Tour

Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 20th 2017 by Harper Collins
With thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review.

Blurb:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

My Review:

Let me start by saying I love the cover for this book. It's so pretty and I like that different parts of the cover are raised to add texture to the book.

This book reminds me a little of P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern, but instead of a husband speaking to his wife, this is a mother trying to reunite her daughters who have refused to speak to each other for over a decade by leaving a collection of messages and memories to try to remind them of what it means to be sisters.

The story is told from the past and present, leading from the girls' childhood through to the event that divided them for years. It also told through the letters, videos and cassette recordings Andrea leaves for them to try to bring them back together.

I think my favourite character in this was Andrea, even if she was speaking from beyond the grave. Her warmth, humour and vitality leap from the page and her messages were very moving. I also liked her friend Lewis who supports her to the end and beyond and is the kind of friend we all hope to have. Rose and Poppy on the other hand were quite frustrating. They have gone to opposite extremes of their personalities so that they are not living their lives to the full.

I'd be interested to know what other people think about the reason for the rift between them; as upsetting as I could imagine it was, I thought that Rose overreacted to be honest and was a hypocrite about it all. This meant that I felt more sorry for Poppy than for her. Although Rose did also have to cope with some difficult relationship problems.

Despite my frustration over the reason for the rift, I really enjoyed following their story. This is a funny and poignant story of love in all its forms and I would give it four out of five.

About the Author:

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.

Follow the Blog Tour:







Thursday, 15 June 2017

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Publication: 15th June 2017
Series: From Manhattan with Love #5
With thanks to NetGalley for sending me a copy to review.

Blurb:

The perfect summer escape…?

Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him – too gorgeous, and still too good for her – and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in The Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the perfect way to escape her past…

Their relationship might only have lasted a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss – if she’s run away to The Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her…

My Review:

I have been a fan of Sarah Morgan for a while now and I am absolutely loving her current series of books called From Manhattan with Love! Although this is the fifth book in that series, you can read them as stand-alone books. It is nice to know the whole story though as characters from the previous books appear frequently and it's like meeting an old friend and finding out what they're up to. You don't have to just assume that characters get happy-ever-afters with Sarah Morgan, you can see for yourself when they turn up in different stories!

Holiday in the Hamptons follows the story of Fliss who has a traumatic past which she holds so closely to herself that she can't deal with it or move past it. When Seth, who was a part of her past, appears in her life again, she takes the opportunity to see her Grams to try to avoid him. But it couldn't be that easy! This is an emotional story which deals with some heartbreaking topics, but as ever with Sarah Morgan's books, there is such a warmth to the story that it is very enjoyable.

I always enjoy the close sense of family and friendship in Sarah Morgan's books and this is no exception. I really liked Seth's character and his determination to get through to Fliss despite his own pain. I liked Fliss too, but her determination to take everything on herself was understandable but a bit frustrating. Grams and her friends were a lovely bit of light relief - and their tactics to bring Fliss and Seth together really made me laugh!

This is a lovely, romantic book, it gets 4 out of 5 from me.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated 5 times for the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

Join Sarah on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan/
Follow Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahMorgan_
Follow Sarah on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahmorganwrites/
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Website: www.sarahmorgan.com


Friday, 2 June 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Published by HQ, 1st June 2017
Hardback £12.99, eBook, Audio Edition £12.99
With thanks to Midas PR and the author for sending me a review copy of the book.

Blurb:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

My Review:

This is a heartfelt, emotional story of a girl's mission to take care of the only thing that mattered to her from a time of great difficulty.

Ginny is a very likeable, determined character and I thought that the author wrote very cleverly to portray the different thought processes of someone who is autistic. Obviously these may not be the same for everyone, but as an example, I liked the way Ginny couldn't answer if anyone asked her more than one question at once, they had to ask one question at a time or she would get confused about what they wanted. Ginny's story has definitely highlighted to me the daily challenges that autistic people may face with communication.

This book also highlights the challenges of adoption and raising an autistic child. I really felt for Ginny's "Forever Mom" and "Forever Dad" as Ginny could be difficult to handle. However, the attitudes of the mum also frustrated me a lot at times. Although some of her reactions were understandable, I felt like she stopped trying to understand Ginny for a while and that upset me a bit.

The pace is a little slow at times and there were also a few elements of the story which didn't wrap up as well as I'd hoped, however the story was gripping. Unfortunately, I did guess Ginny's secret pretty much immediately, but that did not stop this from being an insightful, moving and entertaining read, which also handles the issue of abusive parents and the social care system tactfully.

I would give this 3 out of 5.

The Author
Benjamin Ludwig is a middle school language arts teacher, who has been teaching both children and adults since 1997. He believes strongly in supporting the voiceless and the displaced, especially their need for attachment. Shortly after he and his wife were married they became foster parents, and adopted their first placement: a teenager with autism and developmental disabilities. Ginny Moon was inspired in part by conversations he had with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. He hopes to adopt again after his daughter transitions into adulthood. Benjamin lives in New Hampshire.


You can read other reviews on the blog tour using the information below.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Format: Paperback
Published 1st June 2017 by Penguin
With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my copy of this book.

Blurb:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Review:

So I was immediately intrigued when I read the blurb of this book and was really excited to read it when I received my copy and I was not disappointed. This is a fantastic read which I couldn't put down!

There were really interesting dynamics between the characters as they are all very different and they all grew on me in different ways, especially as their relationships with each other changed as events occurred. They also all have very different motives to potentially have been the person who murdered Simon. Karen McManus kept the tension high and I was suspicious of all the characters at different times and I didn't guess correctly until the very end.

The book is told from the perspectives of all the main four characters who were in the room with Simon when he died which helps you to identify with them but then question them and the other characters even more.

The book is fast-paced and gripping and I can't recommend it enough, it gets 5 out of 5 from me. I can't wait to read whatever Karen writes next!

The Author:

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

To learn more visit www.karenmcmanus.com, or follow @writerkmc on Twitter.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Other Us by Fiona Harper

Paperback, 384 pages
Publication: May 4th 2017 by HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins
With thanks to Midas Public Relations for sending me a copy of this book for honest review.

Blurb:

If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

My Review:

The Other Us is an entertaining read which pulled me in to Maggie's world completely and I couldn't put it down.

When Maggie wakes up one morning back in 1992 as her twenty-one year old self she seizes the opportunity to consider her options and to enjoy being young again. With the option to change her life she makes some different decisions and finds that she keeps flipping between two different realities. One with her husband Dan and the second with Jude. These two lifestyles are very different and she is a very different person in each of them. As the novel progresses and she gets older in each life she has to consider what she really wants and her actions. I liked the way the story split and flicked back and forth between these realities.

Maggie was generally a likeable character who does make her fair share of mistakes, even living life over a second, or even a third time and she grew a lot as the novel progressed. I was frustrated with her choices at times and honestly wasn't too sure on her relationship with Jude, I felt like it did not develop to the same extent as her relationship with Dan, despite her feelings towards him, but Dan has his flaws too.

The story is funny and emotional at different times and Maggie understandably struggles with being pulled from one life to the next without warning. I guess my only unanswered question is how did this happen to her, but I guess in some ways it doesn't matter too much. Maggie's choices and development as a character are the main focus of the book.

I would give this 4 out of 5, it is a really fun, enjoyable read.

The Author:
Fiona's first book was published in 2006 and she now has twenty-four published books under her belt. She started her career writing heartfelt but humorous romances for Mills & Boon, but now writes romantic comedies and feel-good women’s fiction for Harper Collins, as part of their HQ imprint.

She is a previous winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, has had five books shortlisted for an RNA Award and won the ‘Best Short Romance’ at the Festival of Romance three years’ running.

Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters.

http://www.fionaharper.com/home
@FiHarper_Author

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 27th 2016 by Viking

Blurb:

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.

My Review:

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was intrigued as to how the author would write it as it's an interesting concept. This is a cleverly written, dark, dystopian world that Naomi has created. The narrative is split between the 'present' and a distant future where two historians are debating a historical novel a man has written which challenges their understanding of the past. In the 'present' the story moves between Roxy, Tunde, Allie and Margot who all experience the sudden change in girls' abilities in different ways. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable but they were all very interesting due to their backgrounds, their reactions to the events in the story and the effect they have. The story is counting down to an unknown event, so sometimes months or years are missed which does help to keep the story moving.

I found the book a little slow to start with but then I was engrossed as the story got darker. The author creates some very disturbing scenarios of what could happen if power was flipped from men to women in this way. There are scenes that are uncomfortable and upsetting to read. Nevertheless, this book is a fascinating insight into our society and perceptions of gender roles. For anyone who is wondering, this book certainly doesn't paint a picture of sunshine and roses if women were suddenly more physically powerful than men but it is very cleverly done.

The author has taken a difficult concept and delivered. I've given this 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

Ebook, 400 pages
Published February 9th 2017 by Simon & Schuster UK

Blurb:

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world.

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

My Review:

This is a wonderful, moving book about the power of love, friendship and family, and rising above adversity to live your life to the full.

Alice suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, an incurable disease which significantly affects the lives of people living with the condition. Alice is one of these people, she endures hours of physio and takes a lot of medication before being able to start her day, but she doesn't let it stop her from striving to achieve her dream of being a singer. As her condition worsens she is determined to continue despite being put on the transplant list.

The characters really leap off the page; particularly Alice who is passionate, motivated and inspiring. I love the friendship that the author created between Alice and her anti-support group, Alice's family and of course Tom, who loves her.

The narrative moves seamlessly between Alice's point of view, Tom's thoughts and Alice's mother Mary's diary. This brings the story to life even more as you discover what the other characters are going through as well.

I didn't find out until the end of the book that Alice is based on Alice Martineau, who followed her dreams despite all the difficulties she faced. This book was written with the support of her family. You can listen to one of her songs here.

I also know someone who has lived with this disease and who was lucky enough to have a double lung transplant. I had no idea of the daily challenges she faced but she is also inspirational, particularly as she is now an advocate for organ donation, which is something everyone should consider signing up for, you can save someone's life. You can read her story here.

This is an excellent book, I give it 5 out of 5.

The Author:

At the age of eighteen Alice had been awarded a tennis scholarship to America when she experienced pain in her right hand. It was rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and she hasn’t picked up a tennis racket since, a sadness that shall always be with her. The theme of disability features in her fiction, but there is nothing gloomy about Alice or her work. Rather this gives her fiction the added dimension of true poignancy.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield


Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 12th 2017 by Electric Monkey (first published June 30th 2016)
With huge thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Blurb:

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one - and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She's trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . but at what price?

Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of James Dawson, Jandy Nelson, Sarah Crossan and Louise O'Neill.

My Review:

This book is quite simply incredible. I put off writing a review of it the last time I read it and having just re-read it in one sitting I'm still worried I won't do justice to it. I also forgot how much it made me cry, but it had the same effect this time too. Not just a gentle tear, this book had me sobbing...

June's life is incredibly difficult and this book deals with very disturbing issues. It is not for the faint of heart but you can't help but admire June for courage and strength in finding hope in the face of incredible adversity.

This is a beautifully written, heart-breaking book which swaps between 'Before' starting when June is 9 years old, and 'After' at an unspecified point in time with June having conversations trying to deal with what she went through. I can't talk in depth about the issues she deals with without giving too many spoilers away but my heart broke for her as I was reading and just wanted to protect her.

The bright point in June's story is her relationship with Blister and his family who give her a glimpse into a life she has never known. The times they spend together growing up and their relationship is wonderful.

I can't hesitate to give this book 5 out of 5 and I would give it more if I could. I can't wait to read her next book.

The Author:

Before becoming a mum to her three sons, Lisa Heathfield was a secondary school English teacher and loved inspiring teenagers to read.

Lisa Heathfield launched her writing career with SEED in 2015. Published by Egmont it is a stunning YA debut about a life in cult. PAPER BUTTERFLIES is her beautiful and heart-breaking second novel. Her next novel is called FLIGHT OF A STARLING and I will be reviewing it soon.

Lisa lives in Brighton with her family.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Penguin
With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book.

Blurb:

Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden.

Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever.

But now they are in their thirties and real life - husbands, children, work - has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect.

Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.

But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers.

Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit.

And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?

My Review:

Wow, so this is an intensely gripping read; I couldn't put it down so I got nothing useful done today!

The story follows Joni and her best friends since high school, Deb, Trina and Eden. They have gone away for a girls' holiday which is something they try to do every year but Joni is worried that they may be growing apart so she has the idea that they write anonymous letters confessing their secrets. This is when things get really interesting. As the secrets emerge and Joni tries to guess who wrote each letter she finds a fifth letter which changes the way she views her friends entirely.

This is a complex story which is cleverly written, with parts of the fifth letter embedded in the story, keeping you guessing who it might be written by. The story is also led by Joni talking to a priest as she tries to work out who wrote the fifth letter. I did find it a little random that she went to a priest for confession to discuss this (as the character is not religious) but it did work well in the story. Nicola Moriarty also used flashbacks and subtle red herrings very effectively. She kept me guessing right to the very end!

The characters were largely likeable despite everything going on and I was invested in their friendship and their history. The author made their interactions very natural and entertaining.

This is a fantastic read and it was made even better by the compelling way the events came to a shocking conclusion.

This gets 5 out of 5 from me and I will definitely be looking to read more books by Nicola.

The Author:



Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney's north west with her husband and two small daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying teaching at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can't seem to stop.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Hardcover
Published April 6th 2017 by Viking
ISBN 0241263158 (ISBN13: 9780241263150)
With my thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Blurb

'All my life my Stradivarius had been waiting for me, as I had been waiting for her . . .'

At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play 'the one'. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament. Her career soared. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned.

Then, in a train station café, her violin was stolen. In an instant her world collapsed. She descended into a terrifying limbo land, unable to play another note.

This is Min's extraordinary story - of a young woman staring into the void, wondering who she was, who she had been. It is a story of isolation and dependence, of love, loss and betrayal, and the intense, almost human bond that a musician has with their instrument. Above all it's a story of hope through a journey back to music.

'The hours fell away as I read this spellbinding tale of love, loss and above all devotion to art' - Susan Cain, author of international bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

My Review

This is a heart-breaking tale of loss. Min Kym tells the tale of how she became a musical prodigy, playing the violin to an exceptionally high standard from a very young age. Her eloquent and moving prose explores her journey of musical progression; sharing the joy she finds in music and exploring her own style until she finally meets the perfect violin for her, the 1696 Stradivarius that is introduced to her at the age of 21. She describes her relationship with the violin and the happy years they had soaring to new heights of success, until it all came crashing down when the violin was stolen.

I have played the flute since I was 7 years old and I hate to imagine how devastated I would be to have it taken from me and I can't claim to have a gift for music like Min Kym does. As I was reading this memoir I was keenly aware of how I would feel if I had suffered that loss and Min Kym carries you closely through the depths of her despair as she was manipulated and encouraged at varying times through the years after her violin was stolen. The violin is more than a simple instrument to Min, it is a part of her which she explains so eloquently that you feel heartbroken for her, particularly as the story progresses.

I was moved and devastated in equal measure and horrified by what Min went through. I am glad that she has regained her voice through this memoir, I wouldn't hesitate to give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The Author

I have placed a link in the image below to Min Kym playing her beloved violin before it was stolen.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown - Blog Tour

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 2nd 2017 by Viking
ISBN 0241978033 (ISBN13: 9780241978030)

Blurb:

"The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.

To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?"

My Review:

I was very excited to receive this book through the post with an invitation to take part in the blog tour. The book was sent wrapped in string with a letter and an envelope filled with herbs which smelt amazing. Instantly I was curious about the story, particularly as I have always been fascinated by the history of witchcraft. So much so, that I studied it in a module while at university, albeit for an earlier period.

The author created a tense atmosphere where Alice has stepped back into a town where suspicions are rising and neighbours are turning on one another. I liked the sense of history and the small details which really built the setting. The details about the witchcraft trials were accurate and horrifying when you think of the things real people went through. 

Unfortunately I found the characters a little bland and this was something that I struggled to move past. The story was slow, however, if you can push past this then the ending is satisfying.

Sadly this book gets 2 out of 5 from me.

The Author:

The Witchfinder’s Sister is the debut novel from Beth Underdown.









If you are interested to find out more and to hear other bloggers' thoughts, please take a look through the blog tour!