Wednesday, 21 September 2022

The Lighthouse by Fran Dorricott

The LighthouseThe Lighthouse by Fran Dorricott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Avon books

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

No one expected them to go there. The question is: will any of them leave?

Six friends travel to a remote island north of the Scottish Highlands for an old school reunion. They’ve rented The Lighthouse – a stunning, now abandoned building that was once notorious for deaths at sea.

On the first evening, someone goes missing. The group search all through the night to no avail. But when the five remaining friends return to the lighthouse early the next morning, they are shocked to find James inside. He’s looks terrified – but won’t say a word about where he’s been.

The party vow to put the strange night behind them and enjoy the rest of their stay, but when more unexplained things begin to occur, tensions escalate. It’s clear James knows something, but nothing will persuade him to give up the secrets of the island. Is he protecting his friends from a terrible truth, or leading them into more danger?

A chilling, gripping and powerfully atmospheric suspense novel with a gothic edge.

My Review

A bunch of long time pals head for a few days away, remote island, stunning lighthouse, beautiful views and the island is theirs alone. They have a history with each other, five of them plus one of the crowds new girlfriends. Small things start happening, item(s) go missing and then one of the group goes missing and more strange things start happening, are the group truly alone or is one of them unhinged?

What a great creepy set up, you have two couples, two singletons, in house jokes and history between the five with the new girlfriend trying not to stand out too much. Two ladies first time away from their child, one of the group is an ex of the other, it has been a while since they were all together. Fun time, joy, jokes, snipping and when things start to go to pot anger, sniping, tears, secrets, accusations - it all kicks off.

Along with all the group drama there is another theme, haunting, ghostly, darkness - suspense and creepiness is weaved throughout. We hear from the characters pov and it changes with the chapters but is well done and flows. The way Dorricott writes you are submerged in the setting which is perfect for the creepy tale and everything that follows, perfect read for a dark night or secluded setting, 4/5.

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Monday, 19 September 2022

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without MeritWithout Merit by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 385

Publisher -

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My Review

Merit is a bit of an odd ball, she acquires trophies that she has never won, they make her feel better and mean something to her. Acquiring her newest she falls under the watchful eye of an attractive young man and has the most wonderful encounter. Things never go quite right for Merit, she comes from a very different family, she has many layers and in Without Merit we get to meet and see them all.

Oooft guys! Talk about dysfunctional family, cringe, laugh, mortified, shock, emotive there is a whole host of topics, themes, situations and some very questionable and shady behaviours. Thus us my first time reading Hoover, I kept seeing her books all over Tiktok, had never heard of her before despite all my years of reading.

Merit is the main character, a teen skipping school and just having a bit of an identity type issue, I can't say she is a lovable character immediately but as the story goes on and we see just what Merit's family life is like you appreciate a bit more how she is.

There is also unexpected bits of humour dottered throughout, I laughed, smirked and had a Oh God NAW moment or two, I absolutely cringed a bit too and laughed out loud. There are some seriously hard hitting and dark themes that are hard to signpost without giving massive spoilers so just a loosey goosey heads up. I have a few more Hoover books to read and very much looking forward to them 4/5 for this first time dance with this author.

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Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Hello, Stranger by Rachel Marks Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the tour for Hello, Stranger by Rachel Marks, for my stop I have my review, non spoiler as always. Buy link, book out now, from Amazon UK, click HERE.

Hello, StrangerHello, Stranger by Rachel Marks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 4 days (as able)

Pages - 431

Publisher - Penguin

Source - ARC

Blurb from Amazon

From their very first date, Jamie and Lucy know they've met THE ONE.

They're as different as night and day. Jamie's a home bird, while Lucy's happiest on holiday. He has a place for everything - she can never find her keys.

Yet, somehow, they make each other happier than they ever thought possible.

So why does their story start with them saying 'goodbye'?

And does this really have to be the end . . . ?

My Review

We start at the end, Jamie and Lucy have broken up, but how can they, they are perfect for each other, they know they have found the one in each other. What happened to bring about their break up?

We hear from both Jamie and Lucy alternative chapters and we go back and forth from present day(ish) when they have broken up but not knowing the how/why. Flicking back to how they met and their relationship as it grows, blooms and ultimately the moment we started, where they break up and what comes after.

This is different in that we start knowing they have split then go through their relationship as it becomes, blooms and breaks. Some of the themes are quite emotive and it is difficult to give a headsup without spoilers which we don't do.

Lucy is a strong woman who has very set ideas on what she wants out of life and isn't interested in the whole conventional expectations of a woman. Jamie loves her so much he just wants them to be together but what happens when things change for one and not the other. We see the judgements Lucy faces and pressure even from her own family, we see the difference in relationship dynamics, husband and wife, son and mother, daughter and mother and babies/children are a huge theme throughout.

I think the book will impact each reader differently dependent upon their own values, experiences and stage in life. Certainly different and I liked that we got both perspectives from a loving and committed couple who find their whole relationship rocked by one incident and the ripples, choices and effects of everything that comes from it. This is my first time reading this author, 4/5 for me this time!

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Saturday, 3 September 2022

The Secret Doctor by Max Skittle

The Secret DoctorThe Secret Doctor by Max Skittle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - In and out around 2 weeks

Pages - 352

Publisher - Blink

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Welcome to the life of Dr Max Skittle. Therapist, relationship counsellor, social worker, friend, parent-figure - and, yes: doctor.
Join Max - and his patients - as he takes us on a rollercoaster journey through a year in the life of a doctor: from infected toenails, to wonky elbows, to erectile disfunction, to bed bugs; the happy couple expecting a surprise new baby; the teenage girl struggling with body image issues; the loving family grappling with grief, Max shows us all the highs and crushing lows that come with being a GP - and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives forever.
This is what really goes on in your local doctor's surgery - spilt urine bottles, existential crises, emails back and forth with social services, utterly unexplainable health problems and appointments always running late - told by a man who, despite it all, really loves his job.

My Review

I tend to enjoy these books as you get a look into the lives of the healthcare professional(s) and a day or more in the job they do. In this one we have the pseudonym Doctor Max Skittle so the doctor can give an honest account and keep his identity. Max is a gp and this is his story and some of his patients stories. Now heads up, Doctor Skittle swears, humour/wording some people may find offensive as often people forget healthcare workers are people and humour, often dark or sweary is a coping mechanism. So if easily offended these types of books, particularly this one wouldn't be for you.

Max lets us see behind the gp door, the ups and downs of being a doctor, the types of patients, problems, insights, conditions and sometimes inappropriateness of your every day person/patient. I think for me when you see the person behind the job it is so important. Especially now as so many people, not all but a lot scream, abuse, verbally and physically towards the doctor(s) who are trying to help.

We get to see the personal life, worries, issues that Max is going through, the celebrations, achievements, disasters, self doubt all whilst managing the patient load. Some of the interactions make you laugh, cry, want to reach in and hug the patient and or doctor, or a gasp out loud of someone brought what into their gp.

Interesting read, well as I said I do find these books interesting and educational laced with humour and emotion, 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander

Meredith, AloneMeredith, Alone by Claire Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 368

Publisher - Michael Joseph

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

She has a full-time remote job and her rescue cat Fred. Her best friend Sadie visits with her two children. There's her online support group, her jigsaw puzzles and favorite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the grocery delivery man. Also keeping her company are treacherous memories of an unstable childhood, the estrangement from her sister, and a traumatic event that had sent her reeling.

But something's about to change. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door. Does she have the courage to overcome what's been keeping her inside all this time?

My Review

Meet Meredith, she has been a prisoner in her own home for over 1214 days, she has a phobia of going outside but it hasn't always been this way. We meet Meredith on the morning it kicks off, ready to leave for work before being overcome and thereon in, effectively a prisoner of her home. However she has a full life, she has her wee companion Fred the cat, she is a dab hand at jigsaws, has online friends and support, her bestie comes round with the kids and she can make beautiful cakes. She has routine, her house is sparkling clean and now she has a "companion" coming, Tom, she doesn't expect much, he is paid to be there. However she finds herself opening up a little between Tom, her new online friend Celeste and one of the local kids who is cheekily charming. Meredith isn't speaking to her family and as the story unfolds we start to learn all about Meredith, her family and her condition and what brought her to how her life is now.

I really like this book, it brought me out of my reading slump and in some ways found myself relating to Meredith. I have withdrawn a bit from everything I love/do normally whilst trying to deal with grief/loss so finding some of Meredith's routines brought a bit of comfort. Set in Glasgow, who doesn't love a book with a location you know and or can relate to and whilst we predominantly are in Merediths life and house it is still nice.

The book has humour, hard themes, loss/grief (also of self), friendship, recovery, mental health, abuse, secrets, family, coping mechanisms as we go through life with Meredith not as a self help type. The book packs a lot in and whilst some scenes gave you a chuckle some made you just want to hug her. I think depending on your own experiences will depend on how much impact the book has on you but regardless of that I think just about everyone would enjoy it. It covers a wide range of issues through Meredith's personal accounts/experiences and gives the reader a chance for empathy rather than preaching or teaching but I think it carries an important message within. This is a great debut, 4.5/5 for me.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Edinburgh Book Festival

I went to pick up my pass, it isn't in the same location as when I went ?2 years ago, maybe 3? So this time it is at Edinburgh College of Art. It took us a bit longer to get to, the city was so busy, parking and get the tram was a no, there was no spaces and folk parked up on the verges. We parked along near the zoo and got the bus in then walked.

Luna didn't come with us but she absolutely checked out the pass and lanyard when I got home.

As you go in (depending which enterance you use) there is a bookshop and stand you can pick up a programme showing all the dates/times/events so we got one of them.

I forgot to mention the wee rubber ducks at the press tent, I love them although this year seemed less than previous but look how cute!

the enterance we went in had the site map (not sure if they are scattered around or if this is the only one).

There is decent amount of signage and we had gotten there in the afternoon so not sure if it would be the same from early on but there was still seats available. At the big screen and scattered around, grassy areas.

Wee gin van and there were other areas marked for food but we didn't go around all areas marked on the map (t was quite a quick visit for us) and a bar to the left of the press tent.

The toilets, they have male, female and one for everyone, nice to see inclusivity and they were kept in good order.

The usual big book display was on, I do love them.

Book signing tent, in the main part we went into.

And you can't go to Edinburgh without getting a picture of the castle.

Hopeful to actually get to see one of the events as the festival is 13th til the 29th but we also have the option of online if in person isn't achievable.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The Survivors by Jane Harper

The SurvivorsThe Survivors by Jane Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 375

Publisher - Little Brown Books

Source - Netgalley & Bought Hardback

Blurb from Goodreads

Coming home dredges up deeply buried secrets...

Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...

My Review

Book location is Evelyn Bay, Tasmania, beautiful but unpredictable sea that has already claimed lives. Kieran Elliot is back to help his mum, dad's dementia is much worse than Kieran realised and being home reignites all his guilt. Twelve years ago his brother and friend died and it is all Kieran's fault. Now back with his partner, also from there, with their baby Kieran is feeling mixed emotions and reception from people. When a young girl is found dead an investigation starts and a lot of the past is raked up which is never a good thing in a small town.

Intrigue, mystery, secrets, love, friendship, lies it has a mix of everything and I loved reading it when our weather turned so we had a thunder and lightning storm. It just made it for perfect reading, very atmospheric, she creates a great visual for the reader anyway but having it both on paper and surrounding me was just perfect timing.

It isn't the type of book where it is actions and fast paced, more of a slow burner but absolutely drawing you in. Small town, no privacy, everyone has an opinion on everyone and everything and you feel Kieran reexperiencing how he obviously felt back when the tragedy struck. Things highlight why we left i the first place, the impact on his relationship with his parents. Small bits of the story teased out and slowly revealed so you are kept guessing, well I was.

I think this is my second book by Harper and will absolutely be reading her others, 4/5 for me this time.

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