‘The Photographer of the Lost’ spoiler-free mini review! Featuring an exclusive extract!

Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Photographer of the Lost and I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt alongside my review! Thank you to Anne Cater/Random Things Tours and the publisher Simon and Schuster for sending me an ARC 😀

photographer of the lost


synopsis

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.


my thoughtsI’m going to keep my thoughts on this one brief because I want you to see for yourselves how gorgeous the writing is!

I was immediately hooked by the prologue of this one (which you can read below, you lucky devils). The writing flows absolutely beautifully and I was completely swept away in the story. The setting was conjured so effortlessly; I could picture every desolate French field and every detail in Edie’s Lancashire home.

The author made me feel for every single character in this book, even those we only meet in passing. I totally felt like I was on this journey with them. And wow, was it an emotional one. This book will seriously make you feel things.

The book moves seamlessly between past and present, and between Harry and Edie’s perspectives. I loved the chapters detailing the brothers’ time at war; these chapters felt so raw and visceral, and I couldn’t get enough! I definitely recommend this one for fans of historical fiction!

I know I haven’t said a lot in this review but I really think one of the best ways for you to get a feel for this book is to let you read a sample of the it for yourselves. So what are you waiting for?!

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Read on for an extract of this gorgeous novel!

Prologue

Edie

 

Lancashire, May 1921

Edie doesn’t hear the postman. She only notices the envelope, there on the linoleum, as she passes through from the kitchen to the sitting room. She bends to pick it up, sure it is a thing of no great consequence, just another bill that will have to wait, until she sees the postage stamp. It is the same stamp that used to be on their letters from France.

She turns the Manila envelope in her hands. The address is typed, so that it has a vague look of being official. She has written a lot of letters to France and Belgium over the past four years and, in return, receives envelopes full of apologies and repetitions. Her mind flicks through the names of agencies and bureaus, charities and associations, official offices and cemeteries.

At first it is merely a white sheet of paper inside the envelope, with nothing written or printed upon it, but when she turns it over, she sees it is a photograph. For a moment she doesn’t know the face. For that one moment it is the face of a stranger with no place or purpose being here, in her hallway, in her hand. It is an item of misdirected post, a mistake, a mystery – but only for a moment.

Edie leans against the wall and slides down the tiles. She hugs her arms around her knees. There’s a flutter in her chest like a caged bird beating its wings against the bars. The photograph has fallen from her hands and is there, at an angle to the chequerboard pattern of the floor, an arm’s stretch away. She rocks her head back against the wall and shuts her eyes.

Edie tells herself that she needs to look at it again. She must look. She ought to look, to bring it up close to her eyes, and to be certain, because while those are surely his eyes in the photograph, everything else makes no sense. How can it be? Certainly it is only a resemblance. It can’t possibly be him, after so long. Can it? But she doesn’t need to see the photograph a second time to know the truth. It is undoubtedly Francis.

She bites at her knee and makes herself look up. She can see her own footprints on the floor, the habitual patterns that she makes around this house. The linoleum needs mopping again. She should find time to paint the scuffed skirting boards and to beat the doormat. An oak leaf has blown under the hall table, and there next to it is that library card she’s been searching for. She notices all of these things, so that she doesn’t have to look at his face.

‘How?’ She asks the question out loud.

The envelope has crumpled in her hand, but she needs to check inside it. There must be more than that picture. There must be an explanation. A meaning. But there is nothing else there. No letter. Not a sentence. Not one word. She turns the envelope over and sees her address has been typed on a machine with worn keys. The curve of the u is broken, the dot on the i is missing, but the inky perforation of the full stop is emphatic. She can’t read the smudged postmark. There are hyphens in the chain of letters, she makes out, and it is perhaps a Saint- Something- or- Other, but the blur is a divine mystery. Her hands leave damp fingerprints on the brown paper. She has grown to accept that there must be a full stop after Francis’ name, but could she have got that wrong? Could there really be a chance? It is strange to see her own fingers tremble that way.

She rocks onto her side and feels the cold of the floor against her cheek. The photograph is there, inches from her hand. She hears footsteps going along the pavement outside, the buddleia tapping against the sitting- room window in the breeze, the beat of a waltz on Mrs Wilson’s wireless next door, but mostly there is the noise of her own breathing. She shouldn’t be here, lying on the hall floor on a Tuesday morning, with her face pressed down against lino that needs mopping, but how hard it is to make herself move. Why is it so difficult to stretch her hand out towards the photograph? To believe that it really is him?

The sun is slanting through the fanlight now, and the harlequin colours of the glass are elongating across the tiles, jewelling his face in red and green and gold. The face of her husband, who has been missing for the past four years.


I hope you enjoyed that! Make sure you check out these other stops on the tour to find out more, see the official cover reveal and be in with the chance of winning a finished copy! 

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The Photographer of the Lost will be released on October 31st 2019! x
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July 2019 Wrap-Up!

July has been a crazy month! I started my new job on the 8th and let me tell you, I have barely stopped! I’m currently working 9-5 Monday-Friday and I honestly can’t wait to sort out a shift pattern because I’m just not able to get anything done during the week! And don’t even get me started on how little time I’ve had to read. Audiobooks have honestly saved me this month.

Anyway. I’ll stop rambling! Let’s have a look at my July reads!

july 2019 wrapup


review books wrapup divider.pngJ SS Bach by Martin Goodman

My first read of the month was for a blog tour and I really loved it. I hadn’t expected to be so captivated by this story. I definitely recommend it for fans of WWII fiction.

Apple of my Eye by Claire Allan

This was a freebie from Avon Books that I’ve had on my TBR for a long while. I finally got round to it this month and really enjoyed it!

Picture of Innocence by TJ Stimpson

I raced through this one! It is genuinely one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. So many twists and turns.

Last Letter from Istanbul by Lucy Foley

This is another book that I’m ashamed to say languished in the TBR cart for far too long. I finally felt in the mood to pick it up this month (or rather listen to it). Sadly, I didn’t love it. Full review coming soon!

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

I ended the month on another historical fiction for a blog tour. You’ll be able to find out my full thoughts tomorrow 😉 And there will also be an interesting surprise!



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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

I received this book ages ago in a Fairyloot box and I finally got round to reading it this month. Unfortunately, it didn’t blow me away. I appreciated the world-building but didn’t really connect with the characters.

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern

I’ve been doing well with the backlist titles this month! This is one of my 12 must-reads for 2019 and while I didn’t really like it, I’m glad to have ticked it off my list!

Perfect by Cecilia Ahern

The second book in this duology was no better than the first. Not much more to say. They have been swiftly donated to the charity shop!

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

This graphic novel was supremely adorable and you should all read it asap if you haven’t already. What more can I say?!

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

This was a surprisingly creepy YA story inspired by Norse mythology. It took me longer to read than I would have hoped but that was no reflection of the book’s quality – I really enjoyed it!

The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita

This translated fiction about a Japanese piano tuner would be perfect for any of you taking part in Women In Translation from tomorrow 😉 It was a gentle but lovely read.


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I had hoped to get through at least one textbook for my diploma course but I just didn’t have the time! Maybe next month hehe.


rereads wrapup dividerI didn’t reread any books this month!


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Total pages: 3762

Average pages per day: 121.4

Longest book: The Photographer of the Lost (492 pages)

Shortest book: The Twisted Tree (180 pages)

Favourite read of the month: J SS Bach

Biggest disappointment of the month: I had a few of these this month! Probably The Last Namsara.

Male authors: 1

Female authors: 9

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I hope you’ve all had a great reading month! And I hope that August will bring lots of great reads your way! ❤
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My favourite blog posts of July 2019!

It’s been another great month in the blogosphere! Here’s another list of posts I’ve loved that I think you should pay a visit 😉

favourite blog posts of the month


favourite reviewsCait reviewed Call It What You Want and made me add all of Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporaries to my wishlist.

Jaime wrote a great balanced review of The Beholder by Anna Bright.

Sofii reviewed Scythe and reminded me why I’m so excited for the final book in the series!

Amy reviewed Lock Every Door and brought the Riley Sager hype to my attention (I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss it until now!)

Melanie added to my autumn TBR with her review of Mooncakes!

Kal bumped Roar up my TBR with her excellent review.

Kat wrote a lovely review of I Love You So Mochi.

Anda wrote an exquisite review of The Map of Salt and Stars.

Cristina reviewed Hope and Other Punch Lines, a book of which I was not aware but which I now definitely want to read!


favourite discussionsNicole raised a really interesting discussion about the rise of ‘cancel culture’.

Jenn talked about the recent increase in bookstagram tours; I’ve been taking part in a few of these myself lately and it was interesting to read her thoughts on the subject!

Rita asked if bloggers are responsible for what we read.

Drew addressed the issue of tagging authors in reviews, which is becoming increasingly relevant.

Swetlana wrote a very honest post about blogging envy.


other fun postsNyx listed her top ten dream libraries around the world and they are GORGEOUS.

Lara recommended a list of YA mystery novels.

Kelly introduced us all to the magic that is Trello.

Ally has been writing a series of ‘how to’ posts and they are seriously so helpful. Finding out you can copy posts has changed my life! 😀

Lydia shared a rainbow of queer reads as part of the blog tour for Girls of Paper and Fire.

Margaret recommended books based on her favourite Marvel movies.


So, there we have it! Some posts I’ve loved this month. Have fun making your way through all of this awesome content 😉signature (2)

Music Monday: With or Without You

Hey everyone! And happy Monday!

I thought I’d do a little U2 for you this week 😀 I don’t know what it is about this song that I love; maybe it’s captivating in it’s simplicity.

With or Without You is the third song from Irish rock band U2’s fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree. It was released in March 1987. It was the band’s first number one in the US and Canada, and was praised by critics upon its release.

It is the second most covered U2 song and is placed at number 132 on the list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Have a great week everyone! x

‘Picture of Innocence’ spoiler-free review!

Hello fellow bookworms 🙂 I recently read Picture of Innocence, which was gifted to me by Avon Books. And I have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read! Let’s see why, shall we?

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synopsis

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.


my thoughts
If you enjoy thrillers, then you absolutely need to read this one. I am seriously going to be recommending this one to so many people.

Unlike some thrillers, the protagonist, Maddie, felt really well fleshed-out. I felt like she was a real person, with a strong backstory and understandable emotions. And I just felt so invested in her life and what was happening to her.

I don’t want to talk about anything too specific to the plot because this is one that you really need to experience for yourself. All I will say is that the author did a fantastic job. There are so many twists and turns to this story and I was living for it. And there were so many red herrings! I was desperate to figure out how things were connected and when all was revealed, I was not disappointed!

For a thriller, this was a surprisingly emotional read. The chapters written from the child’s perspective were harrowing. This all added to the impact of the later reveals. The whole book opens up a really interesting exploration of certain themes – though again, I can’t say what these themes were because of spoilers!

Overall, I just really want more people to read this because it was so breath-taking! I know this book is going to stay with me for a long time.

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I hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading! x
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‘Heartstopper’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies! I’m really struggling to stay on top of blogging this week so I’m sorry for not replying to your comments straightaway – I promise I’ll try to catch up at the weekend! For now, here’s a short and sweet review 🙂

heartstopper


synopsis

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…


my thoughtsOk, so the hype is real with this one. I have been wanting to start reading graphic novels for a while and this was totally the perfect place to start. Everything about it is adorable.

I defy anyone to read this and not have their heart stolen by these precious characters. Charlie is the cutest bean and Nick is an actual angel. I loved them both. And I was pleasantly surprised that Alice Oseman could elicit so many feelings from me with so few words. Seriously, these boys must be protected at all costs.

The plot was so awkward and adorable. This is the quality content I want from books, please and thank you. I definitely want to pick up volume two!

The only small issue I had is that I would have loved for the illustrations to have been in colour. I just think they could have been so gorgeous. But even in black and white, it was wonderful and I would definitely recommend it for lovers of contemporary and those of you who might be a bit nervous about trying graphic novels!

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Are you a fan of graphic novels? Let me know if you’ve read this one! x
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Discussion: How often do you revisit old blog content?

The world of blogging is one that, by nature, runs at an incredibly fast pace. We toil over posts, putting in hours of effort, only for them to be forgotten after a few days at most.

Lately, I’ve been giving serious thought to a full blog makeover. And in doing this, I’ve been considering going back to some of my oldest posts and bringing them up to meet the new standard I’ll be setting for myself. Is this something that any of you have ever done? I feel like if I’m going to go to the effort of changing the whole look of my blog, it makes sense to update my old posts to match. Or am I over-complicating things?!

As it stands, it’s very rare that I will promote old posts I’ve written. Sometimes opportunities will arise where I can naturally refer to a review I’ve written but most other posts just go into the ether. And I feel like it’s a real shame to let all of our hard work go to waste. Do you ever promote your old content? Is Throwback Thursday a thing in the blogging world, as it is on other social media platforms?

There’s another part of me that cringes at the thought of sharing my old content as it currently stands, which is another reason why I’d like to update it!

I know when I first discover a new-to-me blogger, I will look back through a range of their posts to see if they are someone who has consistently put out the kind of content I am interested in. And I have no issue with giving out likes or commenting on old posts, if they are something I particularly enjoy or can interact with. Does anyone else do this? Does the thought of someone digging through your old posts fill you with dread, as it does me?!

I don’t have much more to say on the subject, I just wanted to ask your thoughts and open up a conversation! Do you promote your old content? Is it something that bothers you when you see other bloggers doing it? Or do you not care when a post was published if it’s something that interests you?

I feel like this post has been so rambling haha. But please let me know your thoughts in the comments! Maybe you can help me decide if it’s worth going to the effort of a redesign! x

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Blog Spot: ‘Mr Stoker & I’!

Happy Saturday everyone! A couple of years ago, when I was still super-new to the blogging scene, I read and reviewed two books by indie author Becky Wright. I also had the great pleasure of interviewing her as part of the promotion for her second book. And now I’m delighted to be back promoting her third book, which I’m so excited about… Mr Stoker & I!

I haven’t read this book yet as I’m saving it for October – both for the spookier Halloween vibes and because I want to actually read Dracula first 😉 But I have no doubt that this is going to be a fantastic story full of atmosphere and suspense.

Here’s what the story is about…

synopsis

My name is Miss Lucinda Meredith.
Please, come sit with me a while, let me tell you my story.

It was the Summer of 1890.
Theatre manager and writer, Mr Bram Stoker, arrived here in Whitby after an arduous theatre tour of Scotland. It was to be a welcome respite before his return to London.
What he discovered was far more intriguing.

We met at dawn on the East Cliff, in the shadow of Whitby Abbey, on a bench overlooking the sea. So at ease in his company, I felt compelled to share the events that had haunted my existence.

And after all these years, I wonder, could our chance encounter have inspired what would become, Bram Stoker’s legacy?

Sounds amazing, right?! And just feast your eyes on this stunning cover…

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Seriously, I am in love.

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Have I managed to intrigue any of you?! If so, you’ll be glad to know that Mr Stoker & I released today! It is available in both paperback and Kindle format from Amazon. Click on any of the images in this post to be redirected there 😉

I almost wish that I wasn’t saving this one for later in the year; creating this post has got me super hyped and wanting to read it immediately!

I do hope that some of you will give this one a try because Becky is a talented writer and a supremely lovely lady to boot. I wish her every success with the launch of Mr Stoker & I!

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‘Flawed’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely bookies 🙂 Let’s jump straight into another review, shall we?!

flawed


synopsis

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.


my thoughtsWell, where do I start? I’ve seen so many rave reviews about this one and I honestly think I read a different book? Because I was not impressed. 

This book was just so unremarkable. It was no more special than any other YA dystopian I’ve read, and I don’t think it will be any more memorable.

I didn’t like the main character, Celestine. At the beginning of the book, she was extremely naïve and blindly accepted things that were blatantly immoral, things that were outrageous for me to read. She seemed shallow and only cared about her appearance and her boyfriend. And she constantly told us how she was ‘not like other girls‘. Maybe this was to make her later change of heart more of a contrast but I just found that I didn’t warm to her at all.

While this was admittedly a page-turner, it didn’t feel very high-stakes. The whole thing came across as a bit bland. Though there were some quite shocking moments and it was more gruesome in parts than I expected, I still never reached a point where I felt invested.

I just felt like I was being spoon-fed a lot, told and not shown. I’m already halfway through the second book in the duology, Perfect, but I’m finding it’s much the same as the first book, very repetitive and predictable. I’m probably not going to bother writing a separate review for book two, since I feel pretty much exactly the same as I do about Flawed. Hopefully other readers will have better luck with this one!

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Have any of you read this one? Or do you stick to Cecelia Ahern’s adult books? The only one I’ve read is P.S. I Love You! x
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‘Apple of my Eye’ spoiler-free review!

Hello! I’m back with another review today 🙂 This time, it’s for Apple of my Eye, the second thriller by Claire Allan. You may remember me reviewing Her Name Was Rose last year – well I was delighted when Avon Books sent me Allan’s next book to review!

apple of my eye


synopsis

When a mysterious note arrives for six months pregnant Dr Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…


my thoughtsIt’s a little while since I read a thriller and I was in the mood for one – this one did the trick! It was fast-paced and very entertaining.

I enjoyed the split perspectives, alternating between main character Eli and stalker Louise. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention but I found Louise to be the more interesting character of the two! I thought her motivations were explored really well.

I’m not sure that the introduction of a third point of view was the wisest decision on the author’s part; I felt that it allowed me to guess one of the twists too quickly. However, I still ended up being surprised by another element of the plot so it wasn’t all bad!

I enjoy the fact that Allan sets her books in Northern Ireland. The references to Belfast in this one particularly were delightful, as I recognised so many places!

I want to give a quick mention to the way the author portrayed Eli’s anxiety. I thought that her panic attacks read very realistically and I appreciated the way her mother responded by offering reassurance and proper support, not just telling her to ‘calm down’.

Overall, this was a strong thriller if slightly predictable in parts. I’d recommend it to those of you looking for a quick and entertaining read!

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Do you guys like thrillers? Let me know some of your favourites in the comments! xsignature (2)