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All about Books

Book Review: A Spark of Life by Jodi Picoult

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult so was very excited to recieve an advanced copy of her new release A Spark of Light. Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read this.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Book Cover of A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Title: A Spark of Light

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon

Genre: General Fiction

Release date: 30th October 2018

Blurb

Whose choice is it? 

The masterful new novel from the Number One bestselling author of Small Great Things.

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My Thoughts

This is another divisive novel by Jodi Picoult told sensitively as it tries to deal with all sides of the abortion debate. It is honest, gritty and hard-hitting and doesn’t shy away from the heightened emotion abortion evokes and the physical aspects of the procedure. Some may find parts distressing and a trigger.  The plot revolves around the stories of the women and doctor at a women’s centre in Mississippi when a gunman attacks – these include a 15-year-old girl, her aunt, doctor and nurse. Each have their own reasons for being there that day and all different characters. Unusually, it is told in a reverse chronological order taking you from the end of day to the beginning. This could have been an awkward format but Jodi Picoult’s style and talent carries it off.  My heartstrings were pulled because I felt an attachment to all characters whatever their beliefs and was on the roller coaster of emotion with them as the terror unfolds. It is a story about life and should read to start a conversation.

After all, as Jodi Picoult says

“Honestly, I do not believe we, as a society, will ever agree on this issue. The stakes are too high, and both sides operate from places of unshakable belief . But I do think that the first step is to talk to each other—and more important, to listen. We may not see eye to eye, but we can respect each other’s opinions and find the truth in them. Perhaps in those honest conversations, instead of demonizing each other, we might see each other as imperfect humans, doing our best.”

A Spark of Life Jodi Picoult 2018

Would I recommend?

Yes, whatever side you are on this novel shines a light on the shades of grey in the abortion debate which divides many in all countries. It is not an easy read but you come out of it a different person.

Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Book review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

On social media the trailer of an upcoming Sky 1 series is being shared based on the novel A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It looks good with drama, fantasy, action and magic so it must be time to catch up with the book.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Book review: A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 29th September 2011

Blurb

The phenomenal international bestseller and the first volume in the enthralling All SOULS trilogy, preceding SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts

This is the first book in the All Souls trilogy and my favourite of the series. From the moment Deborah Harkness transported me to the Bodleian library with Diana Bishop I was hooked.  I could not resist; this book has always the elements   I love – old dusty books, libraries and magic bundled together with descriptive pose and intriguing characters. Lots of characters to discover and love besides the main characters, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. There are the witches including Emily and Sarah, the extensive vampire family including Miriam, Marcus, Ysabeau and Marthe and deamons especially Hamish. They all have depth and stories beyond this series.

Diana is a character who grew as her back story was revealed throughout the book. As a witch who loves research into the history of alchemy I longed to see the imagery she was seeing in the old manuscripts. Matthew Clairmont has all the element you would expect of a fictional vampire – wealthy, unrealistically handsome, tall and strong with overprotective tendencies but he is grounded by his flaws. They make him more realistic. His back story and secrets add to the depth of character. I found it refreshing that the relationship between him and Diana was more balanced than many vampire stories. She is not your usual damsel in distress.

This a mature paranormal novel with a wonderful blend of unique characters, history, science, location and description to form an epic adventure involving romance, fear and drama. Deborah Harkness has not just created a story for Diana and Matthew she has created a world to explore so it feels as if any character could easily have their own novel. Long after I put the book down my mind would drift back to the plot and characters.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes! I love this book and is in my top 10 favourite books and is on my forever shelf. With the upcoming TV programme I predict it will go wild with discissions. As with all book versus film debates it is worth a read before the programme release. Have you read it and let me know what you think below.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

 

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Book Review: The Songs of Us

Last week I had to spend the weekend in hospital but I was lucky to have The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper to keep me company.  Thank you, Mai Taylor, from Mai’s Musings for recommending and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy to give an honest review.

Book Review for The Songs of Us

 

The Songs of Us Book Review

Title: The Songs of Us

Author: Emma Cooper

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 31st May for e-book     20th September paperback

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction

Blurb

‘Quirky, clever, and original, this will break your heart, but put it back together again’ 
Katie Fforde

‘This is a very special book indeed: funny, powerful, heart-wrenching and so poignant’ 
Jo Thomas

‘One of my favourites of 2018’ Amazon reviewer

Fans of Jojo Moyes, Cecilia Ahern and Marian Keyes will love The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper, a laugh-out-loud, funny and heartbreaking novel of love, loss and what it means to be a family.

If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.

If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.

But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.

Readers love The Songs of Us:

‘Rarely does a book come along that is as unique and mesmerising as The Songs Of Us‘ 

‘Reminiscent of (and in my humble opinion right up there with) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Cecilia Ahern’s PS I Love You

‘It had me laughing and crying in equal measures’

My Thoughts

The imagery Emma Cooper’s writing evoked in the first few pages made me splutter and a chuckle and I knew I was going to enjoy this book.  The writing is strong and I instantly connected to the flawed characters of the King’s dysfunctional but loving family unit.  Melody, Flynn, and Rose share their perspectives as they all cope with the consequences of Melody’s neurological condition in their own way. I cringed and laughed with them as Melody’s singing provided many unforgettable moments. The premise of singing when anxious sounded absurd but it quickly becomes believable.  Emma Cooper has a talent for blending humour with heartbreak to produce a unique, warm, funny, heartbreaking and memorable read. I have yet to start a new book days later because it refuses to let me go.

I wish I could see the sculptures and art created in the book; they are described in intricate detail and they sound stunning.

Music plays a huge role in the story so expect many earworms or involuntary singing along while reading.  The clever use of songs adds to the flow and pace of the novel. I was delighted to discover an accompanying playlist on Spotify.

Would I recommend?

This is one of my favourite books in this genre and once it is released will live on my forever shelf. It reminds me of Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes at their best. You will need a box of tissues from the start to wipe the tears from laughter and sobbing.

I can not wait to read more from this novelist.

Happy reading!

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

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Book review: Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble

 

Taking a break from writing, I have had the pleasure to read Elizabeth Noble’s new release Letters to Iris

Book cover for Letters to Iris
Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble

 

Title: Letters to Iris

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Genre: Women’s fiction

Publisher: Penguin UK Michael Joseph

Release date: 5th April 2018

Blurb

A gloriously uplifting story about love in all its forms from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author of The Reading Group and Things I Want My Daughters to Know Tess has a secret – one which is going to turn her life upside down in just nine months’ time. The only person she can confide in is her beloved grandmother. But Iris is slipping further away each day. Then chance brings a stranger into Tess’s life. Gigi’s heart goes out to Tess, knowing what it’s like to feel alone. She’s determined to show her that there’s a silver lining to every cloud. As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Tess feels inspired to open up. But something still holds her back – until she discovers Iris has a secret of her own. A suitcase of letters from another time, the missing pieces of a life she never shared. Could the letters hold the answers that Tess thought lost for ever? An uplifting, unforgettable story about keeping secrets, taking chances and finding happiness where you least expect it. Praise for Elizabeth Noble ‘A great writer. You’ll be rooting for Noble’s protagonists as soon as you meet them’ Daily Mail ‘Noble is the mistress of the tearjerking message of love’ Express ‘Deliciously readable’ Times

My thoughts

I loved the depth and soul of this book as it delves into the complex bond of grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Iris is the connecting thread between all of the female characters who are all facing challenges related to their time of life whether it is becoming a mother, facing an empty nest or dementia and end of life. It is emotional on all levels but left me feeling uplifted by the strength these women showed.

I instantly felt a bond with all the main characters especially Gigi and this made me read into the night because I needed to know a little bit more as the story developed and Iris’ history was uncovered.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you love women’s fiction with believable characters. It is an exploration of the strength of women wherever they are on their life journey.

Thank you NetGalley and Michael Joseph for allowing me to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Happy reading!

Short story, Writing journey

Flash Fiction Friday: Chinese Lanterns

 

This was written using the following writing prompt from my writing group

Chinese lanterns writing prompt

 

Chinese Lanterns

The glowing Chinese lantern rose high in the sky and then faded away into the distance.

“They are still here,” murmured Josie.

“Pardon?” my mum crouched down to hear my little sister’s muffled voice behind a tightly-wound scarf, but she refused to say anymore. Instead, she ran down the hill, flapping her arms as if she wanted to take off. We thought nothing of it.

We did not listen. Not when our rabbit disappeared, along with many others in the street and Josie whispered, “It was them”. Nor when my dad looked up from the local paper in shock at the sudden rise in dog abductions. We did not notice the lack of insects buzzing around the garden; we enjoyed the lack of flies infesting the wheelie bins. Birds no longer sang at dawn and we casually ignored it all.

It was the knock at the door we heard and the slam of Josie’s bedroom door. She stood at the top of the stairs dressed in her favourite clothes, along with her fairy wings crushed beneath an overpacked backpack.

She grinned and declared, “They are here”.

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Book review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

I was attracted to this book for its cover and title – I love sunflowers! I was excited when I received an advanced copy by NetGalley for an honest review.

Book review for Sunflowers in February

Title: Sunflowers in February

Author:  Phyllida Shrimpton

Genre: Young Adult, paranormal, fiction

Blurb

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

My Thoughts

What a wonderful, quirky debut. It brought tears to my eyes, made me gasp, chuckle and smile but most of all, it gave me a sense of positivity. Lily has an upbeat personality and experiencing her viewpoint made me look at the world with fresh eyes as well as reach out for the Jelly Tots. My diet has been paused again because of a book.
It is hard to review without giving anything away but it covers the consequences of a death, grief, family bonds and how precious life is. There were times it made me stop, look around me and appreciate the moment. A little bit of mindfulness in a novel.

Who can resist Jelly Tots?

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is the best book I have read this year.

Have you read this yet? Let me know your thoughts below.

 Happy reading!

All about Books

It is all about Soulmates Part 2: Book Review for The One by John Marrs

This is the second book I have read recently about finding a soulmate. Whereas The Soulweaver had a traditional spiritual take on the idea, John Marrs has taken a scientific approach.

The One by John Marrs

This book had been on my TBR for a while but I was on a long reservation list at the library. Finally, I received a copy but then I was reluctant to open it. I had heard the good reviews and did not want to be disappointed if I felt it did not deserve the hype surrounding it.  I have been bitten a few times like that. The first time I heard about The One was an interview with John Marrs on Simon Mayo’ s Book Club . The idea of finding your soulmate via genetics was fascinating and tantalising close to reality. I love psychological thrillers as a genre so it needed to be read.

 

The One cover
The One by John Marrs

 

Blurb

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

My thoughts

My concern about this book not deserving the buzz surrounding it was unfounded. The One is a stunning, fast-paced thriller following five people as they meet the person their DNA dictates is the person they belong with. Each person has taken the test for different reasons, are in different circumstances and the results lead them to deal with different consequences. It is well written and leaves you asking the question “Would you take the test?”. It is a warning of what our future may hold with the rising trend for online dating and genetic discoveries.

Would I recommend?

Definitely. Buy, beg or borrow a copy and book a day off to curl up in a comfy chair to enjoy.

Have you read it?Let me know what you thought below.

Happy reading!

 

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