Educated by Tara Westover [review]

Educated

Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House UK

[Synopsis]

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

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[My Review]

Educated is a tale of struggle, resilience, and bravery from Tara and some of her siblings. There’s also so much betrayal and abuse in there too from Tara’s father – often to the point that it is sometimes hard to read. I just hate to think that someone can treat their own family this way, wondering at times if this can really be possible – but the fact that it is Tara Westover’s real life in the pages of this book just shows that, sadly, there is real evil in this world – but also some real light, too!

The support Tara got as she grew up is more uplifting and I liked learning about her life at the universities she attended. She’s incredibly naive at times and often quite hard to ‘work out’, but this all added to my interest in the book. I also really enjoyed reading about the Mormon faith – I still don’t feel like I know that much about the faith because, even with my limited knowledge, I can tell that no one could think that the Westover family is a ‘typical’ Mormon family!

It’s an inspiring read, and for someone like me who generally enjoyed school and spends a lot of time reading, it’s crazy to think some children aren’t given the same opportunities from a young age and are even blocked from accessing education by those who are supposed to care and love them.

Educated is definitely a thought-provoking and unusual read, and one I would recommend.


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

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

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3 mini #bookreviews by my mum!  #TheMermaidAndMrsHancock, #ThreeThingsAboutElse & #Educated

Here’s a few mini guest reviews by my mum! She’s not a book blogger herself but works in library & information services for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, getting to work with books everyday (and therefore gets to enjoy the wonders of Netgalley too!)


The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Title: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
Author: Imogen Hermes Gowar
Publisher: Random House UK

[Synopsis]

This voyage is special. It will change everything…

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This chance meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, a journey on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost…

What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

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[Review]

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is a wonderful tale that delighted me throughout. Set in Georgian England in 1785, the stories of Mr Hancock – a respectable merchant – and Angelica – a courtesan – are drawn irresistibly together by the random purchase of a mermaid and chances are it will be a road to disaster.

The period is brilliantly portrayed and I loved the brothel house scenes which made me laugh. There is hope, despair, fortitude and magic so delicately and enjoyably woven together that I didn’t want it to end.

An amazing debut, this is a writer to look out for.

Buy on Amazon here.


Three Things About Elsie

Title: Three Things About Elsie
Author: Joanna Cannon
Publisher: The Borough Press

[Synopsis]

There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

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[Review]

This is a beautifully written, carefully constructed, delicately balanced gem of a story.

Florence, 84 and in a care home, has a best friend Elsie who is with her in the home and she takes us back through her life as she lies on the floor of her room after falling, waiting for help. Almost instantly I loved Florence, wanted to travel with her and enjoy her spark and her observations of life.

There are some lovely passages that describe memories and the passing of time in prose loaded with meaning but never too drawn. In particular Florence – and Elsie – refer to a long second which is when the clock hesitates, just for a moment, long enough to give the extra time needed to make the right decision.

The book is crammed with memorable characters both good and bad and there is a mystery that teeters throughout the story. I laughed out loud at parts, and I cried a bit too.



Educated

Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

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[Review]

Such a brave, honest, intelligent account of a childhood that was anything but conventional.

Despite physical and mental abuse, being made to work in conditions that no-one, least of all a young child, should and a lack of any formal education, Tara not only survived but educated herself and ultimately became a PhD. But she mourned the loss of her family along the way and even though her eyes were opened to the lies that she had been fed all her life, she still missed them and loved them despite everything. One of her brothers was clearly mentally ill, as was her father, and she suffered incredible abuse from him that her parents refused to acknowledge.

Was sexual abuse also involved and Tara cannot yet voice this? It was his treatment of her and her sister that finally caused the split with her family and a breakdown in Tara. But she began to heal and flourish, finding support within the extended family unit.

Brutal, chilling but ultimately a tale of the human spirit overcoming terrible obstacles to shine, it grows in strength as she does and in the end we are dazzled.


– Reviews by Heather Nazmdeh

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WWW Wednesday [28 March 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? 

Twin Truths – Shelan Rodger [read my blog tour review here]
Entanglement – Katy Mahood [read my review here]
Anna Amanda Prowse [review to follow]

What are you currently reading? 

 

Briguella - Vicki Fitzgerald
Briguella – Vicki Fitzgerald

What will you read next?

The Wildflowers – Harriet Evans [I’m on the blog tour in April with a review!]
The Next Girl – Carla Kovach


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!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Entanglement by @KatyMahood [review]

Entanglement - Katy Mahood

Title: Entanglement
Author: Katy Mahood
Publisher: The Borough Press

[Synopsis]

2007: at the end of a momentous day, Charlie, Stella and John cross paths under the arches of Paddington Station. As Charlie locks eyes with Stella across the platform, a brief, powerful spark of recognition flashes between them. But they are strangers … aren’t they?

Plunging back thirty years we watch as, unknown to them all, the lives of Stella and John, and Charlie and his girlfriend Beth, are pulled ever closer, an invisible thread connecting them across the decades and through London’s busy streets.

For Stella, becoming a young mother in the 1970s puts an end to her bright academic career in a way John can’t seem to understand. Meanwhile Charlie gambles all future happiness with Beth when his inner demons threaten to defeat him.

In rhythmic and captivating prose, Katy Mahood effortlessly interweaves the stories of these two families who increasingly come to define one another in the most vital and astounding ways. With this soaring debut, she explores the choices and encounters that make up a lifetime, reminding us just how closely we are all connected.

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[My Review]

This story absolutely blew me away. I felt myself experience a range of emotions from laughter and happiness at the characters’ high points to surprise and sadness – many tears were shed in the reading of this novel, but I loved every moment!

The characters (two couples: Stella and John, and Charlie and Beth) completely drew me in; I felt like I knew them so well by the end of the book. It begins in 1977, and I loved reading about life in London (one of my favourite cities!) during that time and in the 30 years after that is covered by the novel. There’s something about following the same characters over a long length of time – observing through the pages the key points in their adult life – which makes the reader (or me, anyway!) feel so much more invested. That’s not to say I particularly liked all of the characters in this book, I just found them incredibly interesting in their own ways, and wanted to read more about them.

The plot is unique in the way that it combines the theory of quantum physics (this idea that particles which became connected can remain so, even when far apart from eachother – this is coming from someone with no scientific understanding, but it’s all presented in a way that makes sense in the pages of Entanglement) with completely everyday, identifiable life events: relationships, careers, having kids, dealing with loss and grief… many things that will, unfortunately, affect many of us at some point in our lives, and therefore is so relatable. The lives of the characters  overlap in various ways and at many points over the years thereafter – someone will glimpse someone else for just a second, and at other times their connections become more fixed.

I loved reading about the ‘near misses’ some of the characters have with almost meeting, and the possibilities that this brings. Katy Mahood’s beautiful writing meant this novel was, for me, just perfect.

[Rating: 5/5]

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

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Twin Truths by @shelanrodger [blog tour review + guest post] @domepress

Twin Truths - Shelan Rodger

Today I am so pleased to be on the blog tour for Shelan Rodger’s new novel, Twin Truths! I loved Yellow Room [read my review here] so jumped at the chance to read and review this very intriguing-sounding novel… read on to find out what I thought and read a great guest post by Shelan on “the elasticity of time in life and fiction”!

Title: Twin Truths
Author: Shelan Rodger
Publisher: The Dome Press

[Synopsis]

Jenny and Pippa are twins.

Like many twins they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other. When one of them disappears, the woman who is left behind must rebuild her life alone as she tries to find out what happened to her soul mate.

Her journey of discovery takes her to Argentina, Brazil, Greece and the UK. The truths she discovers about herself, her sister, their mother and their absent father are profound and deeply shocking…

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[My Review]

Twin Truths is a beautifully-written, thoughtful novel about the power of love (in many forms), the importance attached to ‘truth’ and/or ‘secrets’, and the complex nature of identity… if this sounds a little vague, it’s because I am so wary of giving too much away and ruining any of this powerful story for future readers; I feel like it’s best to go into this novel without too many preconceptions!

Jenny, who we meet first, is a troubled character who I struggled to warm to initially; however as the novel continued we see there is so much more to her and her childhood with twin sister Pippa, which has affected both of their lives thereafter… there are some surprises along the way and various points where I wondered how much truth is being presented to me as the reader, something I always enjoy in a book!

There are some upsetting themes in this story and parts which to me felt quite claustrophobic, mirroring the characters’ own feelings and leaving me thinking about it after I’d finished reading. There are also some interesting parts that reveal more about life in Argentina too, and I also really enjoyed the section at the end where Shelan discusses her inspiration for the book.

Overall I really enjoyed Twin Truths and raced through it, finding myself enveloped in the setting, feelings and descriptions which make this book such an absorbing read.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Many thanks to Dome Press 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!


[Guest Post: The elasticity of time in life and fiction]

‘Imagine if flash-forwards to the future existed, how many events would seem unbelievable, laughable even, or just plain intolerable. I imagine life as a pile of bones without the flesh of time to join the different bones together and fatten the relationship between them…’

This is one of the sisters speaking in Twin Truths, as she rakes back over her past. Yet, as I get older, I grow more and more convinced that time is not linear, as if the cells of our flesh intuit at some level what is going to happen. We may only become aware of this in hindsight, may only see the signs looking back, but they are there, in our bodies, working slowly on preparing us for our futures.

Can you relate to this? Can you look back now and realize that somehow, somewhere, at some level, you ‘already knew’? When you look back and turn your life into a story, can you remember something that was said – by you or someone else – which now seems prophetic, which makes sense now with what has happened since? Is there a moment you felt something strange, a twinge of something you didn’t understand at the time, but which has come back quietly to haunt you since?

The elasticity of time, the way it stretches and slows and does somersaults, the way past and present and future feed each other is, I believe, one of the driving forces of fiction, one of the reasons we love reading novels. Some novels delve explicitly in time travel of course, but all fiction, in one way or another, swims implicitly in the notion of time. The use of flashbacks, the juxtaposition of present and past, the way that narrative speeds up and jumps from one point in time to another, or slows down and digs into the subconscious that fattens a clock moment – all these are mechanisms that play with the subjectivity of time. And this reflects the reality of the way that we experience time in our own lives, for all our apparent captivity in 24 hour days.

Memory weaves in and out of our consciousness, in and out of our dreams; trauma or loss can inhabit not just our minds but our bodies – we continue to react in the present to the past we carry inside us. And we react continually to a future that does not exist, with fear or worry, excitement, hope, faith, or all manner of emotional nuance on the rainbow of projections we allow to play in our minds. In the story of our own lives, we are both reader and writer at the same time, perceiving and interpreting as reader, but with the capacity to intervene and shape and influence as writer – and this creates a certain tension and responsibility! When we read a novel, we can lose ourselves in a world that has already been created for us and there is a comfort in that, something therapeutic and relaxing about experiencing the elasticity of time and the way that this plays out in the life of an imaginary character.

The first page of Twin Truths is a flashback to a moment of panic underwater which only makes full sense on the final page of the book. I hope you enjoy the slippery elasticity of the journey in between.

– Shelan Rodger


Shelan Rodger

[About the Author]

Shelan’s life is a patchwork of different cultures and landscapes; she was born in northern Nigeria, growing up among the Tiwi – an aboriginal community on an island north of Darwin, and moved to England at the age of eleven. She then travelled to Buenos Aires after graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, and stayed for nine years. Then another chapter in England, followed by six years in Kenya on flower farms by Lake Naivasha and the lower slopes of Mount Kenya.

Now, Shelan lives in Andalucia, Spain. She has learnt in and outside many classrooms around the world, teaching in some of them too. Her professional career has revolved around international education, learning and development, with an emphasis during her time in Kenya on anti-discrimination.

Shelan’s first book, Twin Truths, was published by Cutting Edge Press in 2014, followed by Yellow Room, also in 2015.

As of 2017, The Dome Press acquired the rights to these two titles and Yellow Room was released in October 2017, with Twin Truths following in March 2018.

[Follow the Tour…]

Twin Truths blog tour poster
DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

‘Can’t-wait’ reads: March/ April edition

Here are some of the books I’m most excited to read for the rest of March and into April! There are some brilliant-looking books here that I can’t wait to get started on (not all new releases, just new-to-me!), so read on to find out more…


Entanglement – Katy Mahood

[Synopsis]

2007: at the end of a momentous day, Charlie, Stella and John cross paths under the arches of Paddington Station. As Charlie locks eyes with Stella across the platform, a brief, powerful spark of recognition flashes between them. But they are strangers … aren’t they?

Plunging back thirty years we watch as, unknown to them all, the lives of Stella and John, and Charlie and his girlfriend Beth, are pulled ever closer, an invisible thread connecting them across the decades and through London’s busy streets.

For Stella, becoming a young mother in the 1970s puts an end to her bright academic career in a way John can’t seem to understand. Meanwhile Charlie gambles all future happiness with Beth when his inner demons threaten to defeat him.

In rhythmic and captivating prose, Katy Mahood effortlessly interweaves the stories of these two families who increasingly come to define one another in the most vital and astounding ways. With this soaring debut, she explores the choices and encounters that make up a lifetime, reminding us just how closely we are all connected.

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Anna – Amanda Prowse

[Synopsis]

One Love, Two Stories.

Anna Cole grew up in care, and is determined to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants only to find his soulmate.

Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo. Two damaged souls from different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others’ hearts?

There are two sides to every love story. This is Anna’s.

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The Last Best Story – Maggie Lehrman

[Synopsis]

Rose Regnero was a star reporter for her high school paper, destined for a career in journalism, when she abruptly quit two months ago, leaving behind her very-nearly-sort-of-boyfriend and editor-in-chief, Grant. Now she is trying to be normal at her senior prom, with a new boy and new interests, and isn’t looking back.

Grant was totally blindsided when Rose walked away from the Gazette. After all, they’d dedicated their lives to it for the past four years, had even planned on majoring in journalism together at Northwestern—which is why Grant is determined to entice Rose back. But whether it’s really to the paper or to him he’s not entirely sure.

When an alarm is set off at prom and the school goes on lockdown, Grant discovers that someone is loose in the building with a gun. But Rose, caught outside of the gym, knows differently. Will her instincts for a good story win out against her resolve to leave Grant and the paper behind?

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Briguella – Vicki Fitzgerald

[Synopsis]

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

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The Wildflowers – Harriet Evans

[Synopsis]

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

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Two Steps Forward – Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

[Synopsis]

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past – for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce.

Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino (the Way) for centuries. The Camino changes you, it’s said. It’s a chance to find a new version of yourself, and a new beginning. But can these two very different people find themselves? Will they find each other?

In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin’s and Zoe’s stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal – physical, psychological and spiritual. It’s about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it’s about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.

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Have you read any of these books, or do they take your fancy? I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into these over the next few weeks – keep an eye out for my reviews!

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Hangman by @daniel_p_cole [review] @orionbooks

Hangman - Daniel Cole

Title: Hangman 
Author: Daniel Cole
Publisher: Orion

[Synopsis]

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

[My Review]

I was so excited to read the follow up to the hugely successful Ragdoll – and Hangman, the second in the Detective William Fawkes series, definitely doesn’t disappoint! Much like the first, it’s a rollercoaster of a ride of tension, mystery and general craziness as the focus turns to Baxter this time, and a string of gory murders in the US which have worryingly familiar elements to them…

I have to say, at first I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get to read about Fawkes, who I loved in the last book – however, Baxter more than makes up for it, truly shining with her cutting comments and no-nonsense attitude. I absolutely loved reading about her, and some new characters to add to the mix in Curtis and Rouche who, although very different to Baxter, is another brilliant character who kept me wanting to read on. The characters are really what makes this story such addictive reading; that mixed with brilliant humorous scenes (with a heavy dose of black humour, which I loved) and fantastic situations (some completely crazy and unbelievable, but who cares?) which kept me laughing throughout. It may have even beaten Ragdoll for me (no mean feat!), as I felt like I had more of a grasp on what was going on in this novel – well, to some extent – there was plenty to craziness to keep track of!

I’d forgotten how brilliantly entertaining Daniel Cole’s writing is, and Hangman left me desperately wanting more – that ending too! Bring on book 3 (and quickly, please!).

[Rating: 5/5] 

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

Hangman is out in the UK on 22 March.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH

 

WWW Wednesday [21 March 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? 

The Stranger – Kate Riordan [my review here]
Hangman – Daniel Cole [review to follow]

What are you currently reading? 

Twin Truths - Shelan Rodger

Twin Truths – Shelan Rodger [I’m on the blog tour with a review on Monday 26th March – really enjoying it so far!]

What will you read next?

Entanglement – Katy Mahood
…or
The Last Best Story – Maggie Lehrman [what a lovely cover!]


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!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

The Memory Chamber [audiobook review]

Memory Chamber_JK_tw.indd

Title: The Memory Chamber
Author: Holly Cave
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity reliving your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?

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[My Review]

The Memory Chamber is an entertaining novel with a really interesting premise – what if you could create a ‘heaven’ for after you die, suited to your own tastes and only including the happy times? Isobel, a ‘Heaven Architecht’, creates just that for clients – and one day meets someone she instantly connects with, Jarek – but is everything as it seems?

The world inside The Memory Chamber is built thoroughly and convincingly by Holly Cave, and you can actually imagine such a world one day becoming reality (and potentially a scary time, as shown in the book). The characters are mostly likeable and the confusion at times around who is one whose side, and who is who they seem to be, adds an element of confusion and mystery to the story. There’s a definitely sense of everything shifting as poor Isobel discovers one thing after another, and finds herself in a tricky situation herself!

I don’t want to give too much away about this but it’s definitely an interesting read (/listen, as I had this on audiobook) centering on various important themes that I, and readers no doubt, can relate to. The narrator reads the story really well and I enjoyed listening to this through Audible – it’s great to have something interesting to listen to whilst walking to work/ driving/ doing the washing up etc!

I’d definitely recommend The Memory Chamber for anyone who likes a story with a bit of an original twist.


Many thanks to Holly Cave for providing an audiobook version of this novel, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Stranger [review]

The Stranger - Kate Riordan

Title: The Stranger
Author: Kate Riordan
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.

And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

[My Review]

This is a beautifully written, character-driven novel which takes us to the gorgeous setting of Cornwall, and right back to 1940.

The characters are really well crafted; though each has their own faults (some more than others) they felt far more realistic and convincing for this, and I really warmed to certain characters – particularly Eleanor and Rose. I increasingly wondered who exactly can be trusted and who had any involvement in the disappearance of Diana (this isn’t a spoiler, you find out that she goes missing very early on), which always adds an interesting element to any story.

Although this isn’t a hugely fast-moving story, it is deeply layered and atmospheric; Kate Riordan’s skilfull writing meant that I felt almost like I could be right there with them, in such a beautiful place during such a contrastingly tumultuous time, with all the heightened tensions that such a situation brings. There are also some unexpected parts and twists which kept me intrigued, and some less-than-lovely parts which give the story even more depth and made me really think about the characters’ situations.

Overall I really enjoyed this atmospheric story and feel it would be ideal for anyone who enjoys entertaining historical fiction.


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

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