Everything Is Lies [review]

Everything is Lies - Helen Callaghan

Title: Everything Is Lies
Author: Helen Callaghan
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

No-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?

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[My Review]

Everything Is Lies is an intriguing read that took me by surprise – the synopsis doesn’t really give much away, and so I didn’t have any expectations about what was to come (and therefore, in this review, I’m going to avoid giving anything away that can’t be worked out from the back cover. Keeps it interesting!).

There are two main narratives in play here – one set in the present day and told through the eyes of Sophia, who heads to her parents’ house one day to find her mother has seemingly hung herself – but not before stabbing her father. Distraught, Sophia starts to uncover things she never knew about her mother which means all might not be as it seems… We then go back in time to the 80’s, and into the journals that her mother Nina has written. Through these we see what exactly happened all those years ago as it all intriguingly unfolds right in front of our (and Sophia’s) eyes…

Although this is, ultimately, a mystery/ thriller, I found that I could imagine a lot of it actually happening, particularly the storyline set in the past. I don’t want to give much away but Helen Callaghan writes in a way that makes you realise how easy it actually could be to find yourself in a situation like Sophia’s mother Nina, especially if you’re young, impressionable and have grown up without too much love and attention from your parents. This makes it all the more chilling, really, and I think I enjoyed this storyline more than the present day one, as it was just so engaging and gripping; it’s like a car crash – you know it’s all going to go wrong for Nina somehow, but all you can do is buckle in and watch everything unfold… I liked the way Sophia pieced everything together in the present-day storyline, though, and how it all came together.

Everything Is Lies is a well-written, gripping peek into a different world – of depravity, control and influence – which kept me turning page after page.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Everything Is Lies is out on 22 February!

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The Last Mrs Parrish [audiobook review]

The Last Mrs Parrish - Liv Constantine

Title: The Last Mrs Parrish
Author:  Liv Constantine
Publisher: HaperCollins
Format: Audiobook

[Synopsis]

Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve. 

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

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[My Review]

This is an compelling read (or, as I listened on audiobook, ‘listen’) which I put on whilst doing some DIY and ended up getting really drawn into.

It’s quite a far-fetched plotin many ways, but if you suspend your disbelief you’ll no doubt get into the plotting and sneakiness of certain characters. The synopsis gives away quite a lot of what this book is about already, so you know Amber is trying to get herself fully embedded into Daphne’s life – she wants her life for herself, in fact. We know this from early on, so I’m not spoiling anything here, but what we don’t know is what exactly happened in Amber’s life prior to this, and whether she’ll get her comeuppance (something I desperately wanted to happen throughout!).

Read by Suzanne Elise Freeman and Meghan Wolf (I have to admit that, embarrassingly, I just assumed it was the same person narrating throughout until I came to write this review), the american accent is spot on, with that drawl I always imagine (probably incorrectly!) of the American upper classes – or those trying to fit in there, anyway! I listened to it on a faster speed though, as I’m impatient and the pace of narration is quite slow to start with.

I warn you – this is a story jam-packed with characters you won’t like – some worse than others admittedly. Almost everyone has their faults, some far bigger than others, but there are definitely some surprises along the way! There are very few likable people here… when someone is plotting cold-heartedly to steal someone else’s husband and break up a family, you know they’re a ‘questionable‘ character, shall we say!Almost everyone has their faults, some far bigger than others, but there are definitely some surprises along the way! Usually that would make me struggle to keep interested in a story, but I feel that it just works here – it’s a story all about indulgence, superficiality and the never-ending struggle to be ‘top dog’. It’s also a story about just how much goes on behind closed doors that outsiders can’t see.

This is a really easy novel to race through on a lazy weekend, whether reading or listening, and it’s good fun too!

[Rating: 3.5/5]

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Still Me [review]

Still Me - JoJo Moyes

Title: Still Me
Author: JoJo Moyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

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[My Review]

I was so excited about reading the third novel about lovely Louisa Clark, following on from Me Before You  and After You [read my review here]. Because there obviously isn’t the EMOTIONAL DRAINAGE of Me Before You (which I absolutely bawled at), I knew that this would be less emotionally charged – the second novel was really enjoyable but definitely less of a crier than the first, and this one felt like another marked change as Louisa moves to New York!

The story still has its ups and downs, with relationship problems and other issues making life tricky for Louisa, but there’s definitely a lighter feel to the story. I enjoyed reading about her experience in the Big Apple and, having never been there myself, it made me want to go even more! Louisa is trying to find herself, as Will wanted her to, and following in Will’s footsteps, as he once moved to New York too. There’s poignant moments and funny moments, and some strange sitations for Louisa to deal with too.

I felt like this was an easy, entertaining read. It perhaps didn’t have that spark that the other two, especially Me Before You, had – it felt more like a light-hearted, fun read (though there were some sad moments which I definitely felt myself feeling emotional at) and it was a very enjoyable read, but perhaps not as amazing as I’d expected it to be, partly just because some elements of the story were a little predictable.

I still hugely enjoyed reading it though, and it’s a nice end to this brilliant series. Louisa’s character,  although (or perhaps because) rather silly at times, will always be someone I’ll happily read more about! I just still miss Will!


 

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The Dark Angel [review]

Dark Angel - Elly Griffiths

Title: The Dark Angel
Author: Ruth Galloway
Publisher: Quercus Books

[Synopsis]

Dr Ruth Galloway is flattered when she receives a letter from Italian archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli, asking for her help. He’s discovered a group of bones in a tiny hilltop village but doesn’t know what to make of them. It’s years since Ruth has had a holiday, and even a working holiday to Italy is very welcome!

So Ruth travels to Fontana Liri, accompanied by her daughter Kate and friend Shona. In the town she finds a medieval shrine and a dark secret involving the war years and the Resistance. To her amazement she also finds Harry Nelson, who is enduring a terrible holiday at a resort nearby. But there is no time to overcome their mutual shock – the ancient bones spark a modern murder, and Ruth must discover what secrets there are in Fontana Liri that someone would kill to protect.

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[My Review]

The Ruth Galloway series is like returning to an old friend. I’m always excited for a new release and I know it’s going to be a great read. The Dark Angel reinforced this feeling!

I love the combination of archaeology and crime that runs at the core of this series, and The Dark Angel is no different. What is different, however, is that this book is not set mainly in Norfolk, as many of the previous novels are, but instead a lot of the narrative takes Ruth (and Kate) away to Italy! Though I love reading about Norfolk locations (some real, some made up) it’s actually quite refreshing to have the action relocated to sunny, exotic Italy – Fontana Liri, to be exact – and to meet some different characters as well as the favourites we’ve grown to know and love. In fact, I almost wish we saw a bit more of the old favourites in this book, but as I said it’s always nice to have a change! Ruth is a great character, as always, and still so solid, sharp and, ultimately, very believable; I never think she is overly dramatic about things and I feel like I can identify with her thoughts and feelings as she’s often so normal, despite not being normal – ie. brilliant – at her job. I also liked reading more about Nelson and his strong views; I do like him despite definitely not agreeing with everything he says or does. He’s not a perfect love interest and sometimes he’s quite annoying!

Something I always think about this series is that it’s never rushed. Take Ruth and Nelson’s relationship (or non-relationship, really), for example – they’ve been faffing around each other for years and years, and although there have been moments where you think ‘This is it! They’re finally going to get together‘, we’ve yet to see it properly happen- and this no doubt reflects ‘real life’ a bit more. There aren’t always happy endings or people abandoning their partners to run away into the sunset with other people. I won’t give anything away about The Dark Angel, but could it finally be time for Ruth and Nelson? That’s always something I wonder before I pick up a new book in this series – it keeps me guessing!

There’s exciting/ tense elements to the narrative which keep it interesting and it’s easy to read; Elly Griffiths has such an enjoyable way of writing. I always expect an intriguing and well written read story, which I definitely got in this novel, along with plenty of interesting archaeological details. A great read which only adds to this brilliant series!

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Many thanks to the Quercus Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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WWW Wednesday [13 February 2018]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

Still Me – JoJo Moyes [review to follow]
Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table – Stephen Westaby [my review here]

 

What are you currently reading? 

Everything Is Lies – Helen Callaghan
The Last Mrs Parrish Liv Constantine [audiobook]

What will you read next?

Either:
The Year that Changed Everything – Cathy Kelly
The Sunday Lunch Club Juliet Ashton

What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


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The Wicked Cometh [review]

The Wicked Cometh

Title: The Wicked Cometh
Author: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

[Synopsis]

The year is 1831. Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and no one is willing to speak out on behalf of the city’s vulnerable poor as they disappear from the streets.

Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations.

Hester and Rebekah find themselves crossing every boundary they’ve ever known in pursuit of truth, redemption and passion. But their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking…

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[My Review]

The Wicked Cometh was a mixed bag for me. Firstly, I loved the way this book was written. It evoked a real sense of time and place, and you could imagine being there with Hester as she navigates and lives among the shady characters of murky 1800’s London. The narrative is easy enough to read and the characters are interesting. I liked the element of mystery that hung over the novel, too.

There are some good twists and turns that kept me wanting to read on, with the first part of the story setting the scene really well, transporting me there in my mind. It’s the second half, however, where the action ramps up a bit more, and I was glad of this as I felt some of the story tended to drag things out a bit.

This was the main problem I had with The Wicked Cometh: the pace and the length of time the story spent on certain things instead of advancing the plot as I wanted it to. I should make it clear that I don’t mind a book that has a slower pace, but I felt like this lost its way at times. I think at times there were a little too many characters to keep track of. who I didn’t really care enough about. I found myself losing interest a little as the novel took so long to get anywhere. As the second half of the story approached I did get more into the narrative, and found myself caring more about what happened.

Saying that, I definitely appreciate the really skilled writing in this novel and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction who don’t mind a book that tends to go more ‘around the houses’. However, whatever novel you prefer, Laura Carlin’s writing is sure to fire up the imagination, painting a vivid picture of 19th century London for whoever reads this!

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Book I’m excited to read: February edition

There are so many exciting books that I can’t wait to read this month – mostly new releases but some I’m just going to try and get around to! To keep this post (sort of) succinct I’m sticking to 8 books total – and yes, I know we’re already a third of the way through February, but still…

The Year That Changed Everything – Cathy Kelly (out 22 February)

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[Synopsis]

Three women celebrate their birthdays . . . 30. 40. 50. But their milestone birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything . . .

Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down…

Still Me – JoJo Moyes (out now)

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[Synopsis]

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Everything is Lies – Helen Callaghan (out 22 Feb)

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[Synopsis]

No-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you 

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?

The Sunday Lunch Club – Juliet Ashton (out 19 April)

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[Synopsis]

The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

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[Synopsis]

Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable six-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

The Dark Lake – Sarah Bailey

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[Synopsis]

The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.

As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?

Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.

Bring Me Back – B.A. Paris (out 8 March)

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[Synopsis]

The Disappearance
Twelve years ago Finn’s girlfriend disappeared.

The Suspicion
He told the police the truth about that night.
Just not quite the whole truth.

The Fear
Now Finn has moved on.
But his past won’t stay buried…

Exhibit Alexandra – Natasha Bell (out 8 March)

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[Synopsis]

He thought he knew everything about her until she went missing. 

Before she disappeared, Alexandra Southwood lived an average, happy life: devoted to her wonderful husband, Marc, and caring for her two beautiful daughters. But now, held in a room against her will, Alexandra is forced to think about all she’s lost, and imagine how Marc and her daughters are coping in the wake of her disappearance. She’s shown news clips of Marc, desperately appealing to the public for information on her whereabouts. She tortures herself with visions of her family’s devastated new reality. And as she envisions Marc’s distress, she can’t help but remember their courtship, their marriage–all that he saved her from and all that they’ve built together.

Marc’s pain is visceral. He thinks of nothing but her. Even when the police discover Alexandra’s bloody belongings by the river, turning their missing-persons case into a murder investigation, he cannot accept that she is lost to him. He shifts from total despair to frantic action, embarking on his own journey through the dark maze of secrets she kept and passions he never understood. Following a trail that leads him to find answers to questions he never meant to ask, he’s forced to confront how frighteningly little he’s grasped about the woman he loves.

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Force of Nature [blog tour review]

Today I am incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for Force of Nature, the second novel by Jane Harper, with my review! Read on to find out more and see what I thought of it…

Force of Nature_UK

Title: Force of Nature
Author: Jane Haper
Publisher: Little Brown


[Synopsis]

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

[My Review]

Force of Nature is a worthy follow-up to the hugely successful The Dry. Force of Nature is full of atmosphere and is again set in a location that has its fair share of threat and menace. It feels very different to Jane Harper’s debut, but I know everyone will automatically be comparing the two; I actually feel this novel should be read and enjoyed in its own right – as a solid, absorbing crime novel which kept me really wanting to read on.

Rotating around the disappearance of Alice – one of a the Bailey Tennants employees who were taking party in a corporate retreat  – the novel takes a welcome return to Aaron Falk (who featured in The Dry) as he tries to work out what happened in those three nights out in the harsh Giralong ranges, and why only four of the five women returned. There is a long of focus on what happened, with the reader discovering more and more through flashbacks to that weekend, along with the present day narrative following Aaron and colleague Carmen, who had actually been investigating the company prior to Alice’s disappearance. 

Force of Nature is hugely entertaining and I loved every minute of it! The characters are really interesting and varied, with some being quite unlikeable, meaning you could really imagine the resentment building on the retreat. I don’t want to give too much about the plot away but I’m glad that most of the plot is quite convincing and not too ‘out there’ in terms of crazy resolutions; you don’t feel like you have to completely suspend your disbelief to enjoy this novel. You also don’t need to have read a The Dry to enjoy this – it can definitely be ready as a stand alone novel if you haven’t. 

I really enjoyed this novel and feel that Jane Harper has done a great job of creating another story which packs a punch and makes you feel like you could be there with each character!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Little Brown for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!

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Fragile Lives [review]

Fragile Lives - Stephen Westaby

Title: Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table
Author: Stephen Westaby
Publisher: HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

An incredible memoir from one of the world’s most eminent heart surgeons and some of the most remarkable and poignant cases he’s worked on.

Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon’s shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away.

The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that rope between the two. In the operating room there is no time for doubt. It is flesh, blood, rib-retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. An off-day can have dire consequences – this job has a steep learning curve, and the cost is measured in human life. Cardiac surgery is not for the faint of heart.

Professor Stephen Westaby took chances and pushed the boundaries of heart surgery. He saved hundreds of lives over the course of a thirty-five year career and now, in his astounding memoir, Westaby details some of his most remarkable and poignant cases – such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks by six months old, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked-in syndrome, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years.

A powerful, important and incredibly moving book, Fragile Lives offers an exceptional insight into the exhilarating and sometimes tragic world of heart surgery, and how it feels to hold someone’s life in your hands.

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[My Review]

I really, really enjoyed this memoir – I fancied something that would make a change from all the fiction I usually read, and this turned out to be the perfect pick.

It’s full of fascinating stories, both from Professor Stephen Westaby himself as he takes us through some of the key operations in his career, but there’s also a lot focusing on the people going under Westaby’s knife and how they felt, what led to them needing surgery (including back stories) and how they fared afterwards. It’s a real rollercoaster of highs and lows, with some great results and some which made me feel so sad. I suppose that’s all part of operating on something as important as the human heart though! It did make me think, I don’t imagine I could ever deal with even half the pressure surgeons are always under, and all the emotions from not just the patients themselves but their partners, friends and families too! What a lot of pressure!

The way the book is written allows someone who is certainly not scientific-minded – ie. me – to understand (and I use the word ‘understand’ in a loosest possible way) what Stephen Westaby and his team doing and why… (sort of!) It’s not such complex language that you can’t follow it, and Westaby explains things in a way that makes it a lot clearer and accessible to everyone.

I loved this book. It’s interesting, full of emotion, failure but also triumph, and you can really understand the author’s passion for his profession. Of course, being on call and having such an amazing career has meant aspects of his personal life have inevitably suffered; Stephen says at one point “While I spent many hours striving to save other people’s children… I never spent enough time with my own.”

I have to admit I felt a bit woozy reading some quite in-depth surgery scenes (not great with lots of blood) but regardless of my squeamishness I found the details fascinating! I also found the details about the NHS so interesting, as his career starts back in the 80’s and carries on through to the present day. The NHS is something I’m so passionate about, and there’s a very interesting quote towards the end of the book which really makes you think about the system today:

“So what happened to heart surgery in the UK? After multiple hospital scandals the NHS in England decided to publish individual surgeons’ death rates. Now no one wants to be a heart surgeon.”

From being a working class boy from Scunthorpe to operating on some of the most high profile cases of heart surgery the world has seen, I felt like I was along with Stephen for the journey – and what a journey! Highly recommended.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Home [review] – out today!

Home - Amanda Berriman

Title: Home
Author: Amanda Berriman
Publisher: Random House UK

[Synopsis]

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

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[My Review]

Wow, what an emotional, but at times heartwarming, read! Told from the perspective of four year old Jesika, with everything seen through her eyes and conveyed in her lovely and oh-so-innocent voice, (pronunciation mistakes and all!), you really get a feel for what life in a disadvantaged family must be like for a young girl who doesn’t understand how hard things really are for her mum.

There were times when I found Home really difficult to read, as often you know what’s coming with a sense of building dread. I felt myself wanting to shout through the book at her to warn her. Saying that, nothing in this book is overly dramatic or ridiculous; it’s worryingly realistic. You can imagine only too well it happening – things which I won’t give away here – and the idea of a family struggling and falling through the cracks when it comes to housing and support is all-too common in today’s society.

Home for me was a real mix of emotions, but regardless of how I was feeling, I didn’t want to stop reading…even though I often did want to stop reading! See, a mix?! It’s an absorbing, heartbreaking, and quite original read. It will certainly stay on my mind for a long time.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Random House UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Home is released on 8 February!

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