Monday, 24 June 2019

My Hungry Friend by Daniel Barnett

My Hungry FriendMy Hungry Friend by Daniel Barnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days

Pages - 200

Publisher - Indie/self

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

When Mike Roberts kicks over a homeless woman's cup of change, she whispers a cryptic warning:

"Mind the cracks . . ."

Now the Boston he knows and loves is unraveling around him. But his life is not the only thing at stake. His mother, a once acclaimed writer lost in the late stages of Alzheimer's, depends on him to have a home. And then there's her caretaker, Cassie, who might want something more from Mike than the friendship they've long shared.

As his city balances on a razor's edge, Mike will have to hunt down the daughter of the woman he wronged and uncover their terrible family secret . . . or be plunged into a world of crawling horrors and unspeakable hunger.

A world from which no one has ever returned.

My Review

Meet Mike Roberts, a dentist and has a carer who comes in during the day to look after his mother who has Alzheimer's and Mike looks after her at night. Stressed, living in Boston Mike passes homeless people everyday, this day Mike make's an impulse choice that impacts life as he knows it. One knee jerk reaction brings consequences that will pull down Mike's whole world and bring terror and horror beyond the imagination.

There are a few parts to this story, excluding the horror & weird creatures we have his relationship with his mothers carer and the actual taking care of his mother. Intimate care of cleaning up her accidents at night, safety issues and the pressure of that from a son having to deal with such a change in dynamics from the child to parental role.

The dark in this book is very dark, we have insect like creatures that most folk have some kind of beastie that creep up out, let alone from another world. There is mystery, evil, spookiness and at least one scene with his mother, in particular one part of her anatomy, that made me feel really uncomfortable and creeped out reading. I personally don't think it would have hurt the book to not be in it but artistic license and we don't always get the scenes in the way an author has written or envisioned it being received.

There is a lot of creepy tension and build up to a darkness threatening and changing Mike's world whilst he desperately scrambles to understand what is happening, why and most importantly what he can do to stop it. I think Mike makes so many bad choices and errors but it works in highlighting the reality of humanity, flawed characteristics and how off character would you be if your world was falling apart with a darkness coming in. 3/5 for me this time, I liked the eeriness and tension and look forward to seeing what else this author has to offer.

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Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Forget-Me-Not Summer by Katie Flynn

The Forget-Me-Not SummerThe Forget-Me-Not Summer by Katie Flynn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 4 days

Pages - 432

Publisher - Century

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Liverpool 1936

Miranda and her mother, Arabella, live comfortably in a nice area. But when her mother tells her she can no longer afford their present lifestyle, they have a blazing row, and Miranda goes to bed angry and upset. When she wakes the next morning, however, her mother has disappeared.

She raises the alarm but everyone is baffled, and when searches fail to discover Arabella’s whereabouts, Miranda is forced to live with her Aunt Vi and cousin Beth, who resent her presence and treat her badly.

Miranda is miserable, but when she meets a neighbour, Steve, things begin to look up and Steve promises to help his new friend in her search, and does so until war intervenes…

My Review

We open the book with a young Miranda, her mother goes missing and life is her trying to adapt to the new situation she finds herself in, her family and her new friend Steve. The book moves along from the mystery of Miranda's mothers disappearance to Miranda as an adult, never giving up hope of finding her mother. Covering her life into adulthood we follow her personal relationships, work life and getting through the war and all that comes with it.

The first part of the story I liked, Miranda as a kid, the ?haunting of the house they come across and the story and friendships that follow. Then it skips more to adulthood and it just changed the tone of the story for me, it could have been two different stories to be honest. Things that happened in the first part of the story, characters, I would have liked to have stayed relevant in the time change but it focuses on Miranda, her journey at the point and Steve and his part.

Considering how it all starts and how the author decided to bring the ending about it just wasn't for me. The pace was ok, some bits I liked a lot more than others. A lot of the characters had questionable behaviour/characteristics and some you really warmed to. Really mixed and I am sure some folk will love it but overall I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to and I think had I got more depth for some of the characters and depth I would have really like this one. This was my first read of this author, I would read her again, just this one wasn't for me, 2.5/5.

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Sunday, 16 June 2019

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

If You Were HereIf You Were Here by Alice Peterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Simon & Schuster UK

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off’

When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.

Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancĂ©. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.

As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it?

My Review

Told from three points of view, Peggy is the granny, Beth the mother and Flo the granddaughter. Peggy nursed her husband as he battled through Huntington's disease not telling her daughter. Now Beth and her husband are gone Peggy discovers Beth knew and Flo has a 50/50 chance of getting the condition. She never told Beth and now she has to battle with telling Flo and the consequences. The chapters alternate between Peggy and Flo, we hear from Beth in diary entries from a kid to up until she died.

This book is emotive and totally pulls at the heartstrings. In Peggy we see the role of the carer, the struggles she faced in the time with her husband, love, devotion and watching this condition take away a piece of the person in different ways. In Beth we see the kid watching her father become unwell and how it affected her growing up and then her own experiences. Flo is oblivious to everything, living with the man of her dreams and ready to uproute before everything comes crashing down.

I think with this book it is the dimensions to it all, living with the condition, living with someone knowing they have it, growing up with it but not knowing and how that is viewed through a youngsters eyes. The impact it has on relationships, both families and partners. And the personal battle, journey and emotions if you had a bombshell like this dropped on you, you may potentially have a life changing condition and you are helpless to do anything about it. Would you find out or live in ignorance? No matter what you choose you also cannot control how the people in your life will react and that was a huge eye opener, none of us know what is around the corner.

Books like this make me want to read up more on the condition especially when treatments are mentioned and research. There is still so much work that needs done and in the last few years they have made some great progress, it is a fascinating read both this story and the academic articles out there. I do enjoy a book that provokes an emotive response but also makes you want to go and look into the condition the book centres on. My first dance with this author, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time.

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Saturday, 15 June 2019

Update and adventures

The previous week I wasn't on much (although if you follow my Insta or Twitter you will have seen the updates. So I went to England to visit family, miss paws wasn't amused although she does enjoy climbing on my case.

The weather here was horrible and when I landed it was almost like when you actually go on holiday, it was such a nice change in the weather.

I was only down for a couple of days and it was more about family time but we did get to do a wee bit of sight seeing.

I got to feed baby parakeets - they were so cheeky and beautiful, love them!

So many beautiful animals and we got to get so close, I loved it.

I got to use his Zelda glass, this is a big deal. I am not a Zelda fan but this is a pretty fab glass.

I stayed in the wee Premier Inn, I kinda prefer them when going on mini trips, you know what you are getting. Bar a wee incident with the kettle and limescale it was fine.

There was a wee garden outside which was perfect to grab a wee read whilst waiting to meet up with family.

It was so nice although I didn't really read much except when I was back at the hotel.

Colchester Castle and the surrounding grounds is stunning, I didn't go into the castle but hope to when I visit next time.

Some of the buildings are stunning, I do love an old building and would have loved a wee walk around inside.

I took my Game of Thrones wee blanket with me, cookies, books and junk tv was a great way to unwind at the end of the day, after a bath of course.

When I got to the airport there was a lot of aggression, a lot of flights had been delayed, my own included so I bought junk food, found a quiet spot in the airport, tuned into my book and caught a wee bit of the live show for "For The Love of Horror" talking about their horror con event in Manchester in October. If you like horror check them out guys, they go live once a we, the guys banter is on point and I thought I was a huge horror movie yet every show I am taking note of movies not only I haven't seen but haven't heard of!

I got home pretty late, the sky was lovely but it was cold, nothing new there!

Pretty safe to say Princess Trixie missed me, I was only away three days but she shadowed and stayed by my side most of the night I got home. So that was my wee adventures, catching up now on my book reviews and looking forward to my next visit!

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella FortunaThe Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days

Pages - 464

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

For Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted.
In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.
When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.
In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina. A richly told debut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.

My Review

This is the story of Stella Fortuna, her brushes with death and her family life. Split into Childhood, Youth, Maturity, Old Age & the epilogue we also travel from Italy to America. We kick off in Ievoli, Stella's beginnings, her family, the strong heritage, expectations and of course her "dances" with the grim reaper.

The book has so many layers, told from Stella's descendant giving the book a believable voice with passion and emotion. The book spans over a lifetime, Stella's and we come through strict Italian values and beliefs, war, sexual abuse, family dynamics, relationships, family values. So many topics and issues are covered and many are difficult to read, Stella is such a fierce character and her mother has some moments raw human emotion. The book packs a powerful punch on so many levels and you are sucked into their world, their constrictions, emotions and frustrations.

The journey to America, settling into the lifestyle, the absent father, the rights a husband has over his family in their marriages, finances and the overall rule the man of the house has. The complex family relationships is huge throughout the book in pretty much all of the chapters, an emotive read for sure, impressive writing and I look forward to seeing what is next from this author, 4/5 for me this time!

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Monday, 10 June 2019

A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C A Fletcher

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the WorldA Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 365

Publisher - Orbit

Source - Competition win & review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts.

My name's Griz. My childhood wasn't like yours. I've never had friends, and in my whole life I've not met enough people to play a game of football.

My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.

Then the thief came.

There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.

Because if we aren't loyal to the things we love, what's the point?

My Review

Griz is our main character and protagonist. In a post apocalyptic world Griz lives pretty isolated with his family and dogs. When a stranger comes to their little strip in the world and takes his dog he must go out into a world he has never ventured into to reclaim his dog. Armed with the stubbornness of the young, his boat, his other dog and some food he chases after the thief. Heading to the unknown, danger is everywhere and the reader follows through Gritz written accounts of all he endures and survives whilst trying to get back what belongs to him.

It starts of relatively slow, builds up and offers the reader a different slant on the apocalypse, it is well after the event and we get snippets through Gritz telling. Whilst we have slow build up we do have a fair amount of action, scenes that push some darkness and reminded me of a few of the apocalypse movies/books I have came to love over the years. That said I felt I had a lot of questions that for me didn't have answered how I would have liked. I am very much in the minority as this book is loved by so many and I would absolutely recommend reading it and seeing how you find it.

There are so many great things that really adds to the solemness and emptiness of our world without being over the top and in your face. The situations Gritz finds himself in, the reactions and actions mirror the age of the character and yet some have you thinking he is far older. We see Gritz go on a journey of personal growth, starting out as a reckless kid and becoming closer to an adult after the exposures and hardships along the way.

Whilst there were things I enjoyed and the writing engages you quickly I was left underwhelmed by the things I would have liked addressed or explored further. As I said I am in the minority as this book is overwhelmingly loved by so many and I can be a picky fussy muppet with some aspects of books and I think this time it was definitely me, I needed more. I would absolutely read this author again and even this it would be awesome for them to revisit this world/characters again, 2.5/5 for me this time.

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Sunday, 9 June 2019

The Gift of friends by Emma Hannigan Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan, please check out the other stops as we all offer different content.

About Emma

Emma Hannigan was the No. 1 bestselling author of eleven novels including Letters to Daughters, The Wedding Promise, The Perfect Gift, and The Summer Guest, as well as a memoir, All to Live For, which was about surviving an eleven year battle with cancer - facing cancer 10 separate times over the course of those years - and remaining strong, positive and warm. Very sadly, we have now lost Emma in the fight against cancer - she passed away at the end of February 2018. The Gift of Friends went straight to number one on the bestseller lists in Ireland and has remained there ever since.

Kingfisher Road - a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10? Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems... In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache. But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need? This thirteenth and final novel from the beloved and inspiring Emma Hannigan is a life-affirming, uplifting story that celebrates the strength and joys of female friendship.

The Gift of FriendsThe Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 480

Publisher - Headline

Source - Competition win

Blurb from Goodreads

From the Number One bestselling author Emma Hannigan comes The Gift of Friends, a magical story of love, friendship and hope.

Kingfisher Road - a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems...

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfishers Road discover all the help they need?

My Review

Kingfisher Road is a wee well to do area and about to have a new arrival in number 10. Danielle and Justin will be the new neighbours next to four other houses, the neighbours well established and everyone knows everyone, seemingly. Even with a close knit street all the neighbours have secrets and problems the others know nothing about, how long can secrets remain hidden and do you ever really know your neighbours?

So this is my first time reading this author, I won a copy for me and a friend as part of a competition. This was Emma's last book, submitted before she passed away after a long battle with cancer. The book is filled with so much heart, emotion, love, ups and downs of family lives and some characters you will love and some you will hate.

I got drawn into their worlds so quickly and when each chapter flipped to another of the neighbours I wanted to keep going with the one I was reading, every time! You just wanted to know what was coming next, if X person(s) would get their just deserts. As they are families there are a lot of emotive type situations and dramas that you can't help but get drawn into. Either you will have experience X situation yourself or someone close to you has.

Hannigan has a way of bringing the characters to life and making you want to read faster to see where it is going. Some of it readers may find difficult to read as there are passages of abuse, emotional/violence and targetting of vulnerable individuals by those closest to them. A whole host of emotions and had work not got in the way I likely would got through this in one sitting. 4.5/5 for me, this may have been my first by this author, it won't be my last, I will be checking out her back cataologue!

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