The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik 


What a funny book!

One of my friends has also just read this book and like myself hadn’t read the prequel but don’t let this worry you, it can be read as a standalone book. This is the synopsis:-

“Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can’t hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who’s ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart”

I must confess to not having read anything about the culture but enjoyed hearing about the differences and how tightknit this family was, despite their differences.

The story starts in Karachi with Sofia and her newly converted and new husband Conall. Who is Irish. Plus they eloped. This obviously hasn’t gone down well with her family especially when her she arrives back in London! I don’t want to spoil this book so won’t say too much – just get a copy!

Sofia’s sense of humour is what made the book for me. She’s funny and also quite deadpan which is my favourite type of humour. Her mother is also funny – her mix up of RSVP and RSPCA being a highlight!

A recommended read from me. I will keep an eye out for other books by this author!

As ever, a mssive thanks go to the lovely Readers First and Bonnier Zaffre for this copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Sisters of Battle Road by J M Maloney

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This probably isn’t the type of book that I would have ordinarily read so I am incredibly grateful to Rosie Margesson at Transworld Books for sending me a copy of this.

I had just finished reading a book set in Crete during the Second World War and the fact that this was set in London and subsequently in the English countryside, made it all the more poignant.

This is a lovely, true and often moving account of the Jarman family, Dad Pierce and mum Annie and their 6 daughters as they attempt to live as normal life as possible in London whilst there is the threat of war with Germany.

This is the synopsis:-

‘In 1939 Annie Jarman and her six young daughters were evacuated from their south London home and sent to the Sussex countryside to wait out the war. Refusing to be parted, they faced the unknown together, never imagining just how much their lives would change. From the trials and tribulations of leaving London, the destructive horror of the Blitz and terrible family tragedy to dances, romances and the triumph of making a new life in the country, The Sisters of Battle Road is the compelling true story of six ordinary girls in extraordinary wartime circumstances. Today, the six young girls – Mary, Joan, Sheila, Kathleen, Patricia and Ann – are six remarkable women who have lived to tell their tale of sisterhood and its unbreakable bonds in the shadow of World War Two’

Annie and the girls are eventually evacuated to the countryside whilst Pierce and the rest of their family remain in London and over the next few years we learn of their struggle to stay together and to adapt to completely new surroundings whilst trying to keep things are ‘normal’ as possible. The closeness of the family is very apparent throughout the book and it made me feel close to them too, in a way.

The girls have to adapt to a completely new way of life from the big city of London where in some instances they aren’t as welcome in this small village way of life and they have to grow up fast.

You feel as though you are growing up with them as they experience first hand instances of the war in the countryside, first love and the uncertainty of if they will ever be able to move back home to London.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a brilliant account of what it was like for the children (and parents) that had to pack up their life and evacuate to somewhere completely unknown to them. I hope this was made a fraction better by the fact that they all remained together.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*

On my reading pile….

 

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Like all good bookworms I always have far too many books to read and I fear that my to-be read pile may one day topple over!

The current books I am going to be reading are:-

1) The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Published by Scholastic on 5 January 2017

Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing. Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance – with the help of a brilliant cast of supporting characters. Page-turning, heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry.

2) The Sisters of Battle Road by J. M Maloney

Published by Corgi on 9 March 2017

This was sent to me by Rosie Margesson at Penguin Random House and I’m really looking forward to reading and reviewing.

In 1939 Annie Jarman and her six young daughters were evacuated from their south London home and sent to the Sussex countryside to wait out the war. Refusing to be parted, they faced the unknown together, never imagining just how much their lives would change.

From the trials and tribulations of leaving London, the destructive horror of the Blitz and terrible family tragedy to dances, romances and the triumph of making a new life in the country, The Sisters of Battle Road is the compelling true story of six ordinary girls in extraordinary wartime circumstances.

Today, the six young girls – Mary, Joan, Sheila, Kathleen, Patricia and Ann – are six remarkable women who have lived to tell their tale of sisterhood and its unbreakable bonds in the shadow of World War Two.

3) See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Published by Tinder Press on 2 May 2017

I was sent this much anticipated book by Georgina Moore and this is another one I am looking forward to reading!

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

4) Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Published by Michael Joseph on 12 January 2017

This was sent to me by Jess at JessHeartsBooks as I mentioned I would quite like to read it! Check out her brilliant blog at jessheartsbooks.blogspot.co.uk

‘NEW NAME .
NEW FAMILY.
SHINY.
NEW.
ME.’

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

5) Orange Blossom Days by Patricia Scanlan

Published by Simon & Schuster on 9 March 2017

This was sent to me by Hayley McMullan at Simon & Schuster. I love the front cover and am looking forward to reading this one too!

In a beautiful southern Spanish town, where the sea sparkles and orange blossoms scent the air, the gates of a brand new apartment complex, La Joya de Andalucía, glide open to welcome the new owners.

Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple, are preparing to enjoy their retirement to the full. But the demands of family cause problems they have never foreseen and shake their marriage to the core.  

Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper, a feisty Texan mother of two young teenagers, is reeling from her husband’s infidelity. La Joya becomes a place of solace for Sally-Ann, in more ways than one.

Eduardo Sanchez, a haughty Madrileño, has set out with single-minded determination to become El Presidente of the complex’s management committee. But pride comes before a fall.

Jutta Sauer Perez, a sophisticated German who aspires to own her very own apartment in La Joya, works hard to reach her goal. Then the unthinkable happens.

As their lives entwine and friendships and enmities develop, it becomes apparent that La Joya is not quite the haven they all expect it to be…

What are you going to be reading??

 

 

 

 

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

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Oh……… how I enjoyed this book. I was lucky enough to win a copy for the lovely people at Readers First and sorry to say that it took me a bit to get around to reading it.

The original synopsis reminded me of The Island by Victoria Hislop (this is also mentioned on the front of the book) which I had read some years ago but had very fond memories of. This is the synopsis :-

Can you escape your past in paradise?

‘The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .’

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie’s estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms – it’s time to unburden herself, and tell the story she’ll otherwise take to her grave.

It’s the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

This wonderful novel will transport you to the shores of Crete and stay in your heart long after you turn the last page.

The story is mainly set in Crete where the author, Patricia Wilson had lived and I adored her descriptions of this throughout the book. It starts with a woman, Angelika eager to meet her family that her mother Poppy had run away from to England and had been estranged from for nearly 40 years as she is due to marry.

Angelika meets her grandmother Maria for the first time and we are transported back to the Second World War and the German occupation of Crete through the memories of Maria. This storyline was so well written and utterly heartbreaking but it is a story that needs to be told to find out what happened all those years ago to Poppy, Maria and the rest of the family.

A brilliant debut novel that I just couldn’t put down.

 

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon

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I came home on Monday afternoon after having issues with my wisdom teeth removal and I arrived home to this lovely unexpected book post from the lovely folk at Simon and Schuster.

I’ve read a couple of books by Paige Toon and enjoyed them, my favourite being ‘Thirteen Weddings’. Plus I had seen this book on Twitter and had heard good things. Since getting a bit more involved on Twitter, I have discovered all sorts of new books that I wouldn’t have ordinarily have thought to have read. The wonder of Twitter!

I read the back of the book and discovered it was mainly set in Cornwall (which is always a big YES in my eyes). This is the synopsis:-

‘Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change …’

I started to read the first chapter just to get a feel for the book and I was pulled in and couldn’t stop. I read this book at every opportunity and loved how real the characters seemed. I was delighted to also read mentions of other characters from other Paige Toon books, namely Thirteen Weddings – a lovely touch.

I enjoyed the journey this book took me on enjoying hearing about the characters and how they evolved. The setting was perfect and I loved the descriptions of the locations, you could almost feel the sand between your toes and the sun beating down on you. You actually feel joy when Charlie starts laughing (Nicole’s widow) and how he starts to come out of his shell whilst also feeling utter heartbreak for him whilst he is still clearly grieving for this lost wife and trying to cope and look after their baby daughter, April.

The interactions with Bridget and April were what made the book for me. I could feel her joy at watching this little baby become a walking toddler who holds everyone’s heart.
I was really sad when I finished this book but enjoyed every second of it and am really glad that I started to read that first chapter.

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

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Wow. This was a book that certainly takes no prisoners! I’ve seen so much talk and hype about this book and managed to receive a copy before it was published.

I really enjoyed the tense feeling that was apparent throughout the book. I think my heart was actually pounding at times as I was completely enthralled with the characters and writing style.

The book starts with a ‘body’ being discovered in a block of flats but on closer inspection it is actually different limbs from 6 different people. Why were they chosen?

The race is on for the detectives on the case to try and figure out what is happening next. This isn’t made easy by the fact they seem to be 2 steps behind the ‘Ragdoll’ killer and matters aren’t helped with the interfering of an ambitious news journalist.

I liked the different points of views from the detectives on the case, the main character being Wolf whose story and background you are introduced to at the start of the story.

A really enjoyable and fast paced debut that I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to more!

Child Taken by Darren Young

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Well, I think I managed to read this book in two days which us quite an achievement as I work full time!

The start of this book sucked me in and two days later it spat me out. I had a raging headache but was so enthralled in what was happening that I just couldn’t put it down.

The story is told from several characters points of views and are over a timescale starting with a young girl disappearing from a crowded beach on a hot summer day and moves to the present combining with another child abduction. I enjoyed the interwoven storylines of the two main characters, one a journalist who stumbles across the long forgotten abduction of Jessica and Dannii who is convinced her parents are hiding something from her……but what?

There are plenty of twists and turns along the way and this book certainly kept my attention up until the last page.

Really enjoyable read from an author who I hope gets the praise he deserves.