Blog Tour Review: ‘Where I Found You’ by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this emotional novel. Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Emma Robinson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Your daughter will not speak…But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, and she likes things done in a very particular way – her blocks are always colour-coded and her toy animals stand in regimented lines. She is also the daughter of Sara’s dreams – even on days when being a mother to a three-year-old is exhausting.

Not everyone understands Ruby like Sara does though. Not Sara’s husband Mike, and certainly not her disapproving mother-in-law, Barbara. So when circumstances force their family to move in with Barbara, Sara knows it’s going to make motherhood even harder.

Then Ruby’s pre-school suggests that her behaviour and refusal to speak might be the first signs of a bigger issue, in the same week that Mike walks out on them. And Sara’s world is blown apart.

Facing life as a single parent and trying to work out Ruby’s needs is more than Sara can face alone. There’s only one person she can turn to for help – Barbara.

But Barbara knows something Sara doesn’t. She knows what can go wrong if you don’t look after your children right. And she’s determined not to let Sara make the same mistakes she did.

An emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.

MY REVIEW:

A beautiful, moving and compelling story about a mother’s love and how she’d do anything for her child. It’s also a story of family, friendship, letting go and about how there is often so much more going on underneath the surface than we know. This book will break your heart, make you angry and challenge you. Can you paint a different picture and see all the different shades of colour that are waiting to be found?

This was my first time reading this author’s work but it won’t be my last. I’ll admit, part of my interest in this book was the comparison to my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and I think that is an accurate description of Emma’s beautiful writing style. I was quickly immersed in the story and characters and felt invested in Sara and Ruby.

Sara loves her daughter and loves being a mother. She didn’t have a great upbringing so she’s determined to give Ruby everything she didn’t – which is mostly love and security. She as a difficult time making friends, feels anxious and like everyone is judging both Ruby and her as a mother and is very defensive. She hopes to finally make friends after the move and I enjoyed seeing her find her confidence in herself and her abilities as a mother as she found some lovely friendships over the course of the book. I particularly loved her friendship with Leonard from the art gallery and the positive effect this had on their lives and Ruby’s too.

Reading how Sara felt as she realised something might really be wrong with Ruby and how helpless she felt was heartbreaking. As a mother I could relate to some of what she was feeling.Though I’ve not ever had to go through the trauma of battling to get a diagnosis for my child’s autism – my stepson is autistic and had an easier journey to diagnosis – I do know the helplessness of not knowing how to help them when they’re struggling to deal with their illness and that feeling of loving who they are while aso wishing they weren’t born with something that makes their life harder. I also know the pain of their being something wrong with your child that  you can’t fix. My son was diagnosed with a hole in his heart at a few days old and I’ll never forget coming home from the hospital with a list of what to do if he turned blue or grey and sitting in tears watching him sleep in his moses basket convinced I’d lose the baby I’d struggled to conceive and carry. Thankfully he is fine now but you don’t ever forget those feelings or lose the desire to protect you children.

I didn’t like either Mike or Barbara from the start. Mike is a useless, selfish deadbeat dad. His refusal to ever really parent Ruby was sadly familiar and while I hated him for abandoning his wife and child, I also think the are better without him so I was rooting for Sara to find her strength and realise she’s a better mother without having to walk on eggshells and essential parent him too. Barbara was the typical disapproving mother-in-law who can’t let go of her adult child. My heart went out to Sara having to deal with all her judgments and sly shenanigans, how she ignored Ruby’s problems and wanted to control everything. There was a lot of deja vu for me in her character and I’ll be honest in saying I know that made me dislike her more than I would have otherwise. Even so, I did begin to warm to her after Mike left and I hoped that she would support Sara how she needed.

The characters in this book were multilayered and the author reminds us that there can be reasons for a person’s behaviour, however bad it may seem, by showing us what’s behind the mask. While I liked that this is a reminder that no-one is dimensional or just good or bad, I must admit that I did think that giving Sara the answers to almost everyone’s behaviour difficult to accept. Not everything gets tied up in neat bows and we are often left without closure or an answer for the wrongs others do to us or the reason they aren’t good people. Not everyone will see a problem with their behaviour and make amends, and while we did see this in the book too it was to a lesser extent.

Where I Found You is a wonderfully written book that will stay with me. Though I wouldn’t describe this as a twisty book, it did contain some surprising twists. I thought these were fantastically written and helped create an even greater depth to the book. I loved how it reminds us that life doesn’t work out how we planned or pictured it but that’s okay, we just need to paint a new picture and make the most of the life in front of us. I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have some tissues handy when you read it.

Out now

Where-I-Found-You-Kindle

WHERE TO BUY:

AMZ: https://geni.us/B07SQRSP1XSocial

Apple Books: https://buff.ly/2Kvr4ph

Kobo: https://buff.ly/33tz9lT

Googleplay: https://buff.ly/2yX4nUl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

emmarobinson

Emma Robinson is the author of three novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fourth novel  – Where I Found You – is available to preorder now and will be released on the 16th August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

Website: http://www.motherhoodforslackers.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/motherhoodforslackers

Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk

Instagram: emmarobinsonuk

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Publication Day Review: ‘The Au Pair’ by Emma Rous ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day to Emma Rous!

SYNOPSIS:

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are the first set of twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of a stolen baby.

Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn’t the baby born that day and there was more to her mother’s death than she’s ever been told…

Why did their beloved au pair flee that day?

Where is she now?

Does she hold the key to what really happened?

REVIEW:

This family saga echoes the writing style of V. C. Andrews and combines it with the mysteries of Gillian Flynn. There is something lurking behind the facade of the prestigious family. Could the folklore and whispers in the village be true? Who is Seraphine? What really happened the day she and Danny were born and their mother plunged to her death?

Twins Seraphine and Danny Mayes are born on the family estate, Summerbourne, in July 1992. They are the first “summer-born twins of Summerbourne” in decades even though the family has a history of twins. There are no pictures of the twins first six months because the day they were born is also the day their mother died after jumping from a cliff. Seraphine has always been full of questions about that day, questions that are left unanswered when twenty-five years later her father dies in an accident. When she finds a picture of her parents and older brother with just one baby taken the day of her birth, Seraphine’s questions only increase. She has always felt like an outsider in her family, always been bothered by the village whispers of a stolen child and teasings of “the sprite twins” because she and her brothers look nothing alike. With her Grandmother refusing to give her answers and her brother, Edwin, too young at the time to really understand, Seraphine decides to search for Laura, the au pair who worked for the family the year prior to her birth and disappeared the same day she was born. Surely she will have the answers she craves.

One of the things I loved about this book is that for most of it I couldn’t tell where it was going. The narration is split between Seraphine in the present day and Laura who tells the story leading up to the twins birth. These alternating chapters provided details of the many different dynamics in the story between the main and secondary characters. They also increased the tension and mystery as the revelations unfolded.

The characters in this story were well written. Out of the two narrators I found Laura’s story more interesting as it was the one with the history of the family and events up until the twins’ birth. Who we are is the core of our being so I understood Seraphine’s need to know the truth about herself despite the fact it had the potential to tear her family apart. You were never sure who was a villain in this story which is something I liked. The author wrote this aspect of the plot expertly as Seraphine suspects almost everyone and has you second guessing what you know as she’s threatened to stop searching, the mystery deepens and the revelations about the family’s history and what happened that summer keep coming.

I found the book impossible to put down as I raced to the end desperate to know the truth.  But just when I thought I’d got to the big reveal there were more shocking twists still to come. The Au Pair is an absorbing debut novel that kept me guessing throughout. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Little Brown Book Group UK and Emma Rous for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Out today.

 

 

July #frydayfavourite : Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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It’s the first Friday of the month which means it’s time for this month’s #frydayfavourite

This is a hashtag started on bookstagram by the lovely @artbreaker.bookclub where on the first Friday of each month you share a five-star read from before you joined bookstagram.

This month’s book is Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. When I went away to Bournemouth last month the Airbnb we stayed in had lots of books in the room I was in, including this one. It was like I was supposed to choose that room. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of their copy with some of their beautiful ornaments. Am I the only one that loves finding different props at other people’s houses? No? Didn’t think so.

Synopsis :

A RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB 2017 PICK

A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The best books make you see differently. This is one of them. The eye-opening new novel from Jodi Picoult, with the biggest of themes: birth, death, and responsibility.

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR FILM STARRING VIOLA DAVIS AND JULIA ROBERTS

Jodi is one of my favourite authors and her books are auto-buys for me. I’ve been a fan ever since I picked up My Sister’s Keeper on a whim when it was first released and have read all her books. Small Great Things is one of her best and most heart-rending books. I loved how this book made me look at myself and my thoughts in a new way, how it made me aware of pre-concieved notions I didn’t even realise I had.

At first it seems like the two main characters couldn’t be more different but as time goes on you learn the complexities and nuances that make up a three dimensional person and see that even those with the best intentions to begin with can become prejudice and that the nurse and the baby’s father are actually more alike than they’d care to admit, especially him.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough and it’s certainly in my all-time top ten. Just make sure you have tissues handy and lots of time to read it as it’s a page-turner.

I’ve taken part in #frydayfavourite a few times before but never thought to also post it on my blog so check out my Instagram or Facebook page to see previous month’s books which were My Lovely Bones, My Sister’s Keeper, We Need To Talk About Kevin & The Handmaid’s Tale.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Publication Day Review: ‘After The End’ by Clare Macintosh ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day to Clare Macintosh and her incredible new novel. I read this a little while ago now and have been eagerly waiting to share it with you.

SYNOPSIS:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree. 

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end…

REVIEW:

A heartbreaking and impossible dilemma is handled in a beautiful, sensitive and original way in this emotional novel. This isn’t the kind of book you expect from this Ms Macintosh but it could be her best yet.

The story opens with a courtroom where parents are awaiting a judge’s ruling on their young son’s fate and then goes back to when two-year-old Dylan Adam lies unconscious in hospital with complications from chemotherapy to treat his brain tumour. When doctors tell his parents Max and Pip they’ve reached the end of the road they ask them to make an impossible choice: further treatment that will prolong Dylan’s life for a while or palliative care. Initially the couple are in no doubt of their agreement of the right choice. But by the time they come to tell the doctors their decision Pip has changed her mind and the couple now find themselves on opposing sides of a battle where both believe they know what is best for their beloved son.

What would you do? How do you know what the right choice is? What if the one you made wasn’t the right one? What would life have been like if we’d taken the other path? These questions and more are explored in this poignant and thought-provoking story. 

I don’t want to say too much about what happens once they go to court as it would ruin the story, but after the court case is written in a unique manner that gave the book a lot of it’s charm. It was unexpected and at first I wasn’t sure what I thought. But I quickly loved the direction the author took and the message she was conveying to the reader. 

This was one of the most moving, tragic and affecting stories I have ever read. Max and Pip are faced with the choice no parent ever wants to make and you can’t help but have your heart break alongside them. 

One last thing- you need to read the author’s notes at the end of the book. In these notes the author shares her motivation for writing this story and my heart broke all over again. 

Clare, I have such admiration and respect for your bravery in writing this book. You have touched my heart and soul with this unforgettable story.

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Clare Macintosh for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.

 

 

Review: ‘The Van Apfel Girls are Gone’ by Felicity McLean ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

A compulsive, note-perfect debut for fans of The Virgin Suicides and Picnic at Hanging Rock.

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with’.

Tikka Malloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long summer of 1992, growing up in an isolated suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s Showstopper concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. Did they run away? Were they taken? While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved.

Now years later, Tikka has returned home and is beginning to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her. The girls that she never forgot.

Brilliantly observed, spiky, sharp, funny and unexpectedly endearing, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is part mystery, part coming-of-age-story – with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart.

 

MY REVIEW:

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is a beautifully haunting mystery about childhood, adolescence, secrets and regrets, that takes place over the course of one transformative and unforgettable summer.

Tikka Malloy is haunted by the disappearance of her school friends and neighbours, Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth Van Apfel. They vanished in the sweltering summer of 1992, when Tikka was eleven years old, and despite an extensive search no one ever learned the truth of what happened to the sisters. When Tikka travels back to the small, isolated suburb in Australia she was raised in, she decides it is finally time to make sense of her memories and discern the truth: not only to find out the fate of her friends but also to free herself from the torturous remorse she still feels.

I started reading this book with high hopes as while I have not yet read the books mentioned in the synopsis, I have seen both films and. they were stories that both fascinated and haunted me in a way that is unique to an unsolved mystery. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. I loved this book and find myself still thinking about the mysterious Van Apfel girls.

Hannah, Cordie and Ruth Van Apfel live on the same street as Tikka and her older sister, Laura. Cordie is the one everyone is drawn to: the beauty that shines out, the cool one, the rebellious one. Their parents are religious zealots and are terrified of their violent father. The five girls spend as much time as possible together although to Tikka’s frustration she is often lumped with seven-year-old Ruth, four years her junior, and left out of the older girl’s discussions and plans.

The night the sisters vanished and the events surrounding that night are burned into Tikka’s memory and she’s plagued by guilt and regret. When back in Australia she and her sister discuss the secrets they’ve held for twenty years. It was confusing for Tikka and Laura as they knew what they were seeing was wrong but were so young they didn’t know what to do about it or who, if anyone, they should turn to.

I loved this mesmerising novel. Atmospheric, delightful, captivating, nuanced and nostalgic but also somber, sinister and dire, it had me hooked from the first page. It explores how tragedy can shape our future and how we see things differently with an adult perspective versus a child’s eye. Will we find out what happened to Hannah, Cordie and Ruth? I will leave you to find out for yourself when you read it.

Thank you to NetGalley, Oneworld Publications, Point Blank and Felicity McLean for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out now.

*Thank you to Felicity McLean for the permission to use her picture.

 

 

My Sentimental Book Stack

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I was tagged by @diaryofabookmum & @silverliningsandpages on bookstagram to create a #sentimentalstack and enjoyed doing it so much that I decided to post it on here too.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓓𝓸𝓵𝓵 𝓕𝓪𝓬𝓽𝓸𝓻𝔂 & 𝓕𝓻𝓪𝓷𝓷𝓲𝓮 𝓛𝓪𝓷𝓰𝓽𝓸𝓷 – these were the books from the first author event I went to since starting my bookstagram account. It was such a special moment that I’ll never forget.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓵𝓸𝓻 𝓟𝓾𝓻𝓹𝓵𝓮 – The first book my other half bought me for my first birthday together. He bought me purple themed gifts and didn’t know I’d always wanted to read this book

𝓜𝔂 𝓢𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻’𝓼 𝓚𝓮𝓮𝓹𝓮𝓻 – the first book I read by one of my favourite authors Jodi Picoult.

𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓦𝓲𝔃𝓪𝓻𝓭 𝓸𝓯 𝓞𝔃 – A favourite childhood book and the start of a lifelong obsession.

𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓵𝓭𝓪 & 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓑𝓕𝓖 – two of my favourite childhood books that evoke good memories.

𝓘𝓷 𝓒𝓸𝓵𝓭 𝓑𝓵𝓸𝓸𝓭 – I read this as part of my English A Level. It was the first true crime book I read, before this it was only magazine articles. It instantly struck a chord and cemented my interest in true crime.

𝓕𝓵𝓸𝔀𝓮𝓻𝓼 𝓲𝓷 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓽𝓽𝓲𝓬 – I first read this as a teen and have read it many times.

𝓐 𝓣𝓲𝓶𝓮 𝓣𝓸 𝓚𝓲𝓵𝓵 – my first John Grisham book. He’s been a favourite author of mine ever since.

What would be in your sentimental book stack? Comment below.

Review: ‘The Queen of Hearts’ by Kimmery Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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A debut novel set against the background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humour and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers – Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harbouring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the centre of Zadie’s life-both professionally and personally-throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

I loved this book so much that I could read it every single day and it would bring me joy. An intelligent, poetic, mesmerising and delightful book about humanity, agony, hope, love and friendship.

Zadie and Emma have been friends since being assigned as roommates at a camp for kids interested in medicine. They stayed in touch and have been best friends throughout college, medical school, marriage and children. They can talk about anything and everything, with one exception. In their third year of medical school something terrible happened that they have an unspoken agreement to never discuss. So when Emma texts Zadie saying she wants to talk about Nick, someone who is a part of what they don’t talk about, Zadie feels like the wind has been knocked out of her. Why now?

Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the present day with flashbacks to their third year at medical school in Louisville, Kentucky, the story is narrated by both main characters. Early on Zadie reveals she did something that lead to someone’s death that year and Emma tells us that she has never told her best friend the truth about what happened. As we discover more about Nick and what happened that year, secrets are revealed and their strong friendship is tested like never before. Can it survive a secret kept for almost two decades?

This spectacular debut novel was one I was highly anticipating reading. I love medical fiction, something that probably comes in part from having a Mum who’s a nurse and also because before I became too ill to work I spent many years working in doctors and dental surgeries. I will admit that I judged this book by its beautiful cover. I know we’re not supposed to do that but we all do it, am I right? Thankfully in this case it was justified and I fell in love instantly. It started with a great opening paragraph that instantly portrayed the deliciously lyrical and witty style of writing that had me savouring every word and completely immersed in the pages.

Zadie and Emma were great characters and I was completely invested in their friendship and rooting for them to survive the storms of this story. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from showing how flawed they were and instead made it into an example of how even the good among us can do wrong and cause pain and how every little decision can have often unforeseen and far-reaching consequences. In terms of secondary characters I have to mention little Delaney. That girl is a firecracker! She was so much  fun to read and I loved her precocious, fun character that shone through every time she was on the page.

Though most of this book is written in a lighthearted manner there were some gut-wrenching scenes. My heart was in my throat reading as Zadie lost her first patient and in other tragic moments, and I found myself blindsided and unable to stop reading as the long-held secrets were finally revealed.

Kimmery Martin has written a beautiful book that is a perfect amalgamation of her two loves: medicine and literature. Her extensive medical knowledge shines through and I loved reading the details of medical life and procedures and cracking up at some of the anecdotes of life as a  doctor and mother. The Queen of Hearts is expertly written and I can’t wait to read the author’s second book next year. I will be recommending this to everyone.

Thank you to Kimmery Martin for my signed copy of this novel.

Out now.