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BLOG TOUR – WE OWN THE SKY by LUKE ALLNUTT

We Own the SkyI’m so thrilled and honoured to be here on the blog tour for this truly wonderful book! I believe this is going to be one of the bestsellers of the year and is going to be spoken about for a long time to come.

Before the story even begins, it’s prefaced by an introduction from the author explaining that this was meant to be the legacy that he was leaving behind when he was convinced he was not going to win his battle with cancer.

I read this, and immediately sat up and thought what an open and honest declaration Luke Allnutt is making to his readers just as they’re about to delve into his book: “I was at my lowest point. I thought I was going to die. I wanted to leave something behind … I offer you this.” (That’s my basic summary of what I assume he was thinking – I’d probably make a crap psychologist!) Bearing this in mind, I figured he wasn’t going to spare us anything and that what followed was going to be pure, raw emotion. So I leapt on in. I was not wrong! I couldn’t stop reading – and I was on holiday at the time … in London … spending a lot of time on trains. This isn’t a good book to read in public, on a train with a lot of people in close proximity who can hear and see you blubbering!!

Rob, Anna and Jack, their boisterous little boy are a happy family until the day their world is shattered by a devastating illness. Allnutt draws the reader into their pain and heartbreak in such a way that we feel every single bit of their torment. We witness the initial shock that pulls Rob and Anna together, but then almost immediately, due to their differing attitudes and points of reference, they’re ripped apart by how they feel they need to approach Jack’s diagnosis and treatment. Anna’s methodical tendencies have always been the polar opposite to Rob’s more casual approach to life. As the situation worsens, and Anna falls back on the religious, rule-following ways of her upbringing, Rob becomes frustrated at this unexpected reversal into what he sees as habits from her youth, and becomes more willing to seek out whatever means possible that might help his beloved child, no matter the cost or the risk.

What lengths would you go to for your loved ones? Which loved ones … the one who is unwell or your other family members? This will make you ask questions you’ve never thought of before; questions you didn’t ever want to consider … do you have the answers?

This is a very special book for many reasons. It’s told from a dad’s perspective – not something you’ll find often. Although it’s undoubtedly heartbreaking, it is so beautifully, delicately written that it has an almost other-worldy feel to it. The way in which Rob manages to connect with Jack is so utterly breathtaking that it will inspire you long after you’ve finished reading.

This is a big fat, glittery 5- star-read!! It will stay with you for a long, long time … long after you’ve thrown all those soggy tissues away!

PS: I did find myself wondering why the author chose to write about a child becoming ill – every parent’s worst nightmare – when he himself had been through cancer. It weighed on my mind a lot … why would you want to write about a sick child?! But when I thought about it (and again, I’m making my own assumptions here), I felt that maybe if he’d made his protagonist an adult, particularly a man, it might feel more autobiographical, something he was not able to do. While I’m sure he drew on much of what he experienced, I am sure his own journey is just that: his own private journey.

Follow the blog tour until 15 February and see what others have to say about this gem of a book. It’s available for purchase on 8 February.

Blog tour FINALv3

Thank you so much to Tracy Fenton and her fabulous group THE Book Club on Facebook. You created an online space for those who love reading, but you didn’t stop there, you went on and took it about a hundred steps further than that and now readers and authors have the opportunity to interact daily not only online, but also at the various events that group admins and members co-ordinate on a regular basis. This is a community like no other. Your hard word is appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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BOOK REVIEW – The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

*** NEW *** NEW *** NEW ***

From now on, in every book review, I will include the one single idea that stood out the most for me in that book. Every book has one. I’d love it if you shared yours with me from the same book.

The Marriage PactI loved this while I was reading it; couldn’t put it down! But then afterwards, when I gave it some thought (and I suppose that is a plus: that I was still thinking about it for a while afterwards), I started thinking about how much of the story was so highly improbable. Yes, I know it’s fiction, but there does still need to be a certain measure of belief and sustainability to keep a story within the realms of possibility, especially when it’s meant to be happening in the here and now. If this had been set in the near future, I think it would definitely lend more plausibility.

So … the premise is that Jake and Alice are newly-weds. They’re not young or naïve. She is a lawyer, he’s a psychologist. They receive a mysterious wedding gift from one of Alice’s clients – actually he’s a client of the firm that Alice works for; a very prestigious client, and she was instrumental in winning his case. On a whim, she invited him to their wedding and was surprised when he accepted. In hindsight, it’s an invitation she wishes she never extended!

The strange gift turns out to be an offer to join a covert club known as ‘The Pact’. Members of this fellowship are couples who are extremely devout (to the point of fanaticism) about their marriages, and the marriages of all others who are part of this organisation with them. There are rules … oh so many rules! The main ones being that you do not mention The Pact to anyone outside it, and once you’re in, you can never, ever leave! It’s a bit odd that Alice, a lawyer doesn’t seem to grasp the ‘small print’, or even fully read it before agreeing to enter into The Pact.

The amount of time this couple takes of work throughout this book was one of the things that I found myself constantly shaking my head about! There’s a vague reference once or twice to Jake’s colleagues questioning his increasing absence, but other than that, everyone seems pretty accepting of these unaccountable lapses in being present at their places of work.

The concept of this ‘Marriage Pact’ is an interesting one, and I suppose that’s what makes the book highly readable. The execution of the actual idea itself is sometimes a little off kilter though. Clearly the membership is made up of an intricate network of friends in high places, well connected, and well versed in the art of manipulation. Just how are the powers that be so all-knowing and all-seeing?

This book really had me hooked, but my suspension of belief was stretched to its limits so I’m giving it a 3.5. You need to read this one for yourself and decide.

STAND-OUT IDEA: “Answer the phone when your spouse calls. Every time. No exceptions.” While this stood out for me like many other concepts in the book, and the overall notion of the Pact itself, I found myself questioning whether this is actually possible? Jake is a psychologist – surely he can’t answer the phone during a session with a client? Alice is a lawyer – if she’s in court, she wouldn’t be able to answer the phone, would she? Similarly in our everyday lives, while theoretically the idea might be a good one to try and implement wherever feasible, it’s not always going to be achievable. I guess we can try our best though, right?

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25/01/2018 · 09:23

BOOK REVIEW – The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The couple next doorI loved this fast-paced, breathtaking psychological thriller! This is one of those ‘just one more chapter’ books, and before you know it, it’s 2:00 am!
Marco and Anne are invited to their neighbours for dinner. Sounds non-threatening enough doesn’t it? But Anne’s not too sure. Manipulative Cynthia has made it quite clear that the baby isn’t welcome at her husband Graham’s birthday dinner.
Anne’s been struggling with post-natal depression. Baby Cora is just 6 months old. Marco desperately wants a grown-up evening out. And so, a babysitter is arranged and it’s decided that they’ll go.
But the babysitter cancels at the last minute and although Anne’s quite happy to stay at home and let Marco go to dinner without her. He insists that they stick to their arrangements. After all, they’re only going next door. They can take a baby monitor with them, and pop home every half-hour to check on her. By 1 in the morning, Anne’s had quite enough. They’ve all had far too much to drink, and nobody else seems to worried about the fact that Cynthia is shoving her cleavage in Marco’s face!
When they eventually arrive home, their worst nightmare becomes reality when they discover Cora is not sleeping soundly in her cot … or anywhere else. She’s gone! And Anne realises that she was quite right to think she was a bad mother to leave her baby at home unattended.
A roller-coaster ride ensues in which the reader gets whiplash with all the twists and turns, all the allegiances and alliances, deciding who would have, could have taken baby Cora!
Very cleverly written with deep, dark pasts, secrets and causes for motives being revealed and no stones left unturned. Shari Lapena doesn’t disappoint as she drags us along to a gasping finish!

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BOOK REVIEW – Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was GoneUtterly riveting! I couldn’t put this one down. 15-year-old Ellie Mack disappears without a trace one day. She’s the centre of her mom Laurel’s world, and her family can’t believe that this beautiful, young ‘golden’ girl (as she’s described) would leave home of her own accord as the police would have them think. But there’s no sign of her. What could have happened?

Ten years later, Laurel and Paul, Ellie’s parents have split up, unable to withstand the aftermath of her disappearance, and her siblings Jack and Hanna are somewhat estranged from their mother who they feel was unable to focus on them, but only on their absent sister.

Laurel leads a sad, solitary life unable to forgive the rest of her family for wanting to move on. Until one day she meets Floyd and he’s quite lovely, which makes her wonder if she’s made a mistake to remain in the past all this time. Laurel starts to slowly come back to life and as her relationship with Floyd begins to blossom, she meets his 9-year-old daughter Poppy. It’s a bit startling though, how very similar Poppy is to Ellie when she was that age. And suddenly Laurel is unnerved and all of those unanswered questions into Ellie’s disappearance come bubbling to the surface once again.

Cleverly told, in five parts, told mainly from Laurel’s point of view, but giving insight into Ellie’s world as well, Lisa Jewell has created an enthralling piece that reminds us that people are so often not how they present themselves to others. Hidden agenda’s are the order of the day and who is hiding what is what Laurel needs to discover in order to return to a semblance of normality.

Jewell’s characters aren’t always likeable, in fact some are downright bizarre, but she creates them with such clarity that one can easily understand why that act and react in the ways that they do.

This is a 5 star read. Highly recommended!

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BOOK REVIEW – Tiger in a Cage by Allie Cresswell

tiger-in-a-cageThis is a dense, involved and intricate exploration into the lives of the ‘Combe Close Set’ as seen from the perspective of Molly, who so desperately wants to surround herself with comfortable camaraderie and friendship. Alas, this is difficult to do when you yourself are not a comfortable or socially aware individual.

Molly is, in fact, rather naïve, and as we delve into this deeply descriptive novel, told alternately between past and present, we see that she is often very much on the periphery of this group that she works so hard at forging cohesive bonds with. She’s socially inept and given to misunderstanding most of the undercurrents that occur within their little group. She misses many obvious social cues. She realises too late that a lot of what she classifies as ‘unacceptable’ behaviour is going on right under her nose.

I alternated between feeling quite sorry for the hapless Molly and wanting to shake the stupidity out of her! My pity came from her truly dismal background, which was due to no fault of her own. Escaping at the first opportunity she got, she married the awful Stan and much of the time actually fears him and his unfounded responses to the fairly reasonable behaviour of their neighbours . A stronger woman would most certainly have left him. Once again, she fails to understand the basis of much of his interaction with the people who they live among, and it often falls to them to protect her as best they can from many of his irrational outbursts.

Cresswell  fleshes out her characters so well, although it did take me a while to figure out who was who. I absolutely loved the in-depth descriptions of all the convoluted relationships that unfold. One feels quite voyeuristic reading of all the intricacies and complications that predictably result from living in such close proximity to one another.

With time, it’s inevitable that these connections break down; the bonds loosen and aren’t able to remain as strong as Molly wants them to be, no matter how hard she tries. And when it’s revealed to her that in actual fact maybe her friends aren’t quite who she thought they were in the first place, she’s not sure she wants to maintain the strong ties she’s worked so hard to maintain.

This is a profound and thought-provoking look into the complexities of human relationships; the faults and failings we possess;  what we’re willing to overlook and what we’re willing to accept, whether it’s for the sake of love, to keep the peace, or due to sheer indifference.

Be willing to commit time to this book. It’s engrossing and all-encompassing and well worth the read.

Many thanks to THE Book Club Reviewers Request Group and Allie Cresswell for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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