November Books #BookReviews

The penultimate month of the year, it will no doubt be filled with the odd festive read, along side the arcs I have to complete!

Wish Me Home

Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an emotional read!
I really enjoyed the story of Cara and her tumultuous journey, both physically, and emotionally, to find herself.
And when a four legged companion in on the scene, that can only make things better!

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, imaginative book, filled with rhyme and adventure!
Ford has crafted a beautiful rhythmic tale about Timothy and his time machine, and all the adventures he is able to go on, fuelled by the imagination of a child.
As a teacher, I find that we seem to shut down our children’s imagination, somewhat, catering to curriculum needs, but this book is a reminder to adults as well as kids, that we need to be able to play, pretend, and whisk ourselves off to other worlds sometimes.
A wonderful premise within the book, and lessons to be learned!

Christmas Party

Christmas Party by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not often you get to read about a modern-day knight, and in The Christmas Party, this is exactly what we get. Well, actually it’s more the legacy of a knight.
Declan Lorne is the last surviving knight in Ireland, his family having carried the title over 700 years. And it looks like he’s going to be the last ever knight too, having a family consisting of his wife and three feisty daughters.
His sudden demise leaves a huge gap in the lives of all his family, and his will sets many cogs turning.
Will his wife, Serena, ever accept being relegated to the Dowager House?
Will Ottie, his oldest daughter, ever get over being the disappointment of a girl, rather than a boy, and not the heir she felt her father always wanted?
Will Pip, the middle child, manage to control her own inner angst, and follow her dreams?
And will Willow, the youngest daughter, ever find her true place in her family?
I really enjoyed all the twists and turns within this book, filled with tragedies, and misplaced trust, love and loss.
Oh, and I’d love to see a pink castle!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Hours

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Katie’s life, on the surface, is pretty simple, and straightforward.
She rents a nice flat, has a good job, is in a relationship with a great guy…
Has divorced parents, and a father in prison charged with statutory rape – the rape of Katie’s best friend, when she was fifteen.
Memories of idyllic summers spent at the cabin by the lake are blemished by this one accusation that changes the lives of many people.
Katie has spent most of the last six years erasing the connection between her and her father’s name, to escape the awkward questions from others, but she still loves her dad. After all, it was a mistake, a wrong conviction… wasn’t it?
The impending release of her father brings ripples to the smooth waters of her life and the ripples reveal many secrets, things Katie was never aware of before.
I read this in one day, as I got so into the story.
A really tough topic to write about. The rape of a minor, and the way people cover things up.
Seeing it from the perspective of a different victim, the daughter of the accused, shows another dimension.
Very well written.

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoy watching Lilly Singh and have felt a certain Punjabi pride at seeing one of ‘our’ girls do so well in her chosen career as a YouTuber, with her hashtag and now as one of the first late-night female TV show presenters in the USA.
I must admit I have had this book on my kindle for a while and it has taken a while to get to it, but I finally did this week, and I enjoyed the read. There were several chapters that were really poignant for me.
I shall try to introduce more Bawse-ness into my life!

More Than Just Mum

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What’s not to like?

Hannah Thompson is a woman – so am I
She is a wife – yup, same here
A mother – nods I’ve got 2 kids, a fur baby and two feathered ones, she has 3 children and a dog
A teacher – yes, yet another similarity!
An aspiring author – yet another similarity
Has a hubby who is quietly supportive of her dreams but doesn’t always get the support quite right – check!
Works part-time – no… alas I am a full-time teacher, wife, mother and wannabe writer!

Oh my God, if this woman had only 2 children, and worked a couple more days a week, this book might just have been my life!

Hannah is feeling the pressure.
She has one child about the fly the nest, off to university, one teen who is keeping her on her toes with the company she keeps and the questions she asks and a young not quite tween, who is inquisitive and has a pet hamster which causes his own grief.

Working three days a week (not by choice), Hannah knows that the money isn’t exactly flowing into their bank accounts, and they have a child to send off to uni imminently, and the thought of having to finance two more is, quite frankly terrifying… and her headteacher is not keen to give her a full-time contract.

Until she has the bright idea to write a book on her days off.

Will her head have a change of heart and increase her hours?
Will she finish this book or not?
Will she find a way to publish?

Well, you know I’m not going to tell you. What I will say is that it was a fantastically funny book. I was able to relate to so much of it, and Hannah’s life echoes that of many working mothers out there.

Definitely, one I recommend!

Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Published 7th December, 2019

Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second Japanese book I have read this year and I have to say, I found this one much easier to read.
We follow the life of a 36-year-old woman, Keiko, who has her own social difficulties and finds her comfort in her part-time job as a worker in a convenience store.
It’s been eighteen years since she started at a job where most would have thought of it as a stopgap between studying and proper career.
However for Keiko, yer job in the store allows her to function in the world and be viewed as normal, rather than the oddity she has been regarded with all her life, but both her family and friends.
There is even the contemplation of marriage, which is an alien concept to this middle-aged virgin.
A short read about someone who, I think, is very much on the Spectrum, as they say, and her way of dealing with it, so she fits in with the rest of the world.

You, Me and the Movies

You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of the movies, and the old classics are special to me, so to read a book that referenced so many fantastic films was great!
Arden is a woman who is in a dark place, after the end of an awful marriage. She has shut herself away from everyone who cared about her, partly because her ex-husband made her, and partly because she feels shame at being so weak.
A twist of fate finds her visiting a friend in the hospital, and finding someone else there she knew before.
Mac – a film lecturer from her university, and her big love.
He’s older and injured.
Unable to speak from injuries sustained in a car accident, they begin to share evenings together as she visits him, and revisits the past, recalling a list of movies they watched together, cataloguing their affair with each other.
Of course, she doesn’t have him to herself. She shares her Mac with James, his neighbour.
Together, they ensure his visitor chair is never empty, and build a special friendship, sharing secrets about each other, that they’ve never told another soul.
Mac used to talk about Arden finding her Bigger Love, but she never believed him…

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable with the ending, but sometimes you just want simple stories that don’t have huge twists in them.
Saying that, it isn’t a simple romantic story in the least, dealing with issues such as loss and separation, and the relationships between parent and child.

A recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Published 26th December

Gravity Is the Thing

Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A strange read. It took me a long while to get into this story: a tale of Abigail and her quest for the truth.
A grown-up woman, divorced and mother to a 4-year-old, Abi is constantly on the lookout for answers in life to one big question. Where is her brother?
Robert, her brother, disappeared when she was 15, and there has never been any information about where he went, or what happened to him.
Ironically, that same year, Abi was sent a chapter of a self-help manual, the Guidebook. The chapters kept coming throughout her life, and she felt a link between her brother’s disappearance and the words in the guide.
A request to come to a retreat, where the Guidebook would be the centre of attention draws her into another chapter of her life, filled with different discoveries.
It was a strange story, based in the past as well as the present. I did find myself slightly confused. Are we meant to fly? Or was it all a euphemism for life?
But I did like Abi, and her little son Oscar.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Atlantic Books and Allan & Unwin for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 2nd January, 2020

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book I managed to finish within a day, which, recently has been a struggle for me!

I was intrigued by the blurb. Would this story about a young African American woman, who worked for a successful white family, be something like a lot of social themed novels recently, chanting #BlackLivesMatter?

Well, it did, a little, but that wasn’t the entirety of the novel.

Emira, the babysitter is a twenty-something woman, similar to many out there, unsure of the direction of her life, plodding along, trying to find where she really wants to be.

She just happens to be black.

And the regular babysitter for Alix and her family, looking after two-year-old Briar, and on occasion, her baby sister, Catherine.

Alix is a thirty-something woman, married with her two beautiful daughters and a successful husband, riding on her own social media successes, and in the process of writing a book.

What happens one night in the local grocery store, when her babysitter is falsely accused of taking a child, who is obviously not hers, sparks a chain of events that explore so much more than racial stereotypes. Sure, that is a big part of it, but it is approached from two very different angles, that of a black woman, and that of a white woman.
Neither is racist, but both have stereotypes foisted upon them by others.

Add to the mix, crossed wires, and past secrets, and you have one heck of a delicious novel!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published on 7th January 2020

Lady of the Ravens

Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction and jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of The Lady of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson.

Set in the times where the Tudors took control of the monarchy, the author has cleverly interwoven fact with fiction to create a compelling story that weaves the legend of the Ravens at the Tower of London, with a fictional tale of Joan, a young lady who starts her life of royal duty by being a companion to Princess Elizabeth, and, as time goes by, works her way up to the rank of Lady in Waiting for the then Queen Elizabeth. Along the way, she is chosen to marry Sir Richard, and becomes mother to six stepchildren, despite never wanting to bear children herself.

Joan develops something of an obsession with the majestic black birds that frequent the green around the Tower, and despite the belief among the commoners that the monarchy and country is safe, as long as the ravens roost at the Tower, she is horrified at how the archers use them as target practise, and the treatment of them.

I loved how the story of the ravens and how they appeared to become more accepted, and the life of Joan blended in with the real facts of the monarchy and events that happened at this time.

The characters came to life, and I became a champion of Joan and her cause through the book!

Definitely a recommended read if you are a historical fiction lover!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 9th January 2020

Well, there you have it, my reading journey this month!

Which one has caught your eye?


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