All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: 25th November 2021

Blurb

If your life was going perfectly to plan, would you risk everything to change it? 

Diana O’Toole’s life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she’s up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby’s and she’s about to fly to the Galapagos where she’s convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose.

But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.

Once she’s in the Galapagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded – albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there’s a better way to live.

But not everything is as it seems . . .

My Thoughts

Ever since I read My Sister’s Keeper years ago, I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult books and she is an author I’d always buy the book without focussing on the blurb, but I did have my concerns about reading about the pandemic while cases are still high and the surrounding emotions are still raw. I needn’t have worried; I loved this book.

I was hooked with the opening scene with its fantastic imagery of the Diana’s father restoring the painting on the Grand Central Terminal ceiling. I knew from how Diana saw the world and her love of art I’d enjoy getting to know her better.

This novel is a tale of two halves and highlights the different experiences people had depending on the location, the depth of infection in the area and people’s reaction to it as a whole. The first chapters with Diana in the Galapagos islands were true escapism with the calm, stunning location and sense of community leaping off the page, making them a joy to read despite the climatic threat in the background. Conversely Finn’s experience trapped in New York facing the harsh realities of being on the frontline in the pandemic were heart breaking and eye opening. This novel does not shy away from the cruelty and horror of the disease which made for powerful but disturbing reading. For this reason, I think at the moment Wish You Were Here will be a marmite book – some people will love it and others who have been deeply touched by the virus will find it too close to home. In time it will gain more readers and become an important reflection on the realities of the last couple of years.

The Jodi Picoult twist came as a shock and drew me in further. It was fascinating and made me long to dig deeper, I wish I could chat more about it but that would be a huge spoiler. You’ll have to wait until you’ve read it and find like-minded people to discuss it with.  

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an emotional and powerful book with a character finding her way in unfamiliar territories and has a unique Jodi Picoult twist. Not many authors would get away with a novel based on the pandemic while it is still raging but she’s managed it with great characterisation, sensitivity and the clever use of balancing the harsh and traumatic scenes set in New York with the calmer escapism of the idyllic islands. It’s a book for my forever shelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her most recent adult novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT first published in the UK on 30th October 2018, and was a #1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller

https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

https://www.instagram.com/jodipicoult/?hl=en

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

All about Books

Promo post: The Arcane by Andrew S. French

Today, I’m excited to tell you about a book I wish I’d had the time to read and review for this blog tour because the blurb caught my imagine and I longed to know more – The Arcane by Andrew S. French Maybe once NaNoWriMo is over I’ll be able to have a read.

The Arcane by Andrew S. French

The Arcane by Andrew S. French

Title: The Arcane

Author: Andrew S. French

Publisher: Neonoir Books

Genre: YA fantasy

Release Date: 31st October 2021

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arcane-1-Andrew-S-French/dp/1914308077

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Arcane-1-Andrew-S-French/dp/1914308077

Blurb

Orphaned science nerd and maths prodigy Alice Valentine wants to ace her studies. She’s spent all her life struggling to make friends, passed between foster families and care homes, isolated and lonely. Losing herself in academia from an early age, she becomes the first sixteen-year-old at her local university. Her whole world changes, but nothing can prepare Alice for the night she’s attacked by a werewolf.

But even that isn’t as strange as discovering she has an identical twin sister, Cassie.

And Cassie kills werewolves. And all the other monsters Alice didn’t believe existed.

Alice and Cassie set off to discover what happened to their parents, a journey that takes them from northern England to the edge of the apocalypse, unsure if they will save the world or destroy it.

Author Biography

Photo of Andrew S. French
Andrew S. French

Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste. He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England. He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream. Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.

Social Media Links – Website, Twitter, Instagram, FB page

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and signposting me to another book to add to my TBR list.

Have you read this? What did you think? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

I’m excited to share my review for Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey that first appeared in my other blog From under the Duvet but it deserves another shout out. This novel’s blurb made me jump up and down with excitement as it sounded different and I wondered how the author would tackle a potential complicated premise. Books like these make me feel privileged to be a book blogger and able to discover new authors regularly. Scroll down to see if this novel met my expectations.

BOOK REVIEW: MEET ME IN ANOTHER LIFE BY CATRIONA SILVEY

Book Cover: Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

BLURB:

Joyful, devastating, and profound, Meet Me in Another Life is a story of love and connection in every possible form

 Thora and Santi have met before…

Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead. They will meet again…

They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other. But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?

They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.

Title: Meet Me in Another Life

Author: Catriona Silvey

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Genre: General fiction, fantasy, sci fi

Release date: 8th July 2021

MY THOUGHTS

This novel wasn’t what I expecting but it was breathtakingly beautiful and exceeded my expectations by miles. With an unimaginable and unforgettable ending, this has to be one of the most original reads I’ve read for a long time. I think I’d have to go back to Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay for its uniqueness when time slip novels weren’t a genre of its own thirty years ago.

The novel offers snapshots of Thora’s and Santi’s lifes; each one set in Cologne where a broken clock tower watches over them. Sometimes they’re lovers, other times they are friends or child and teacher; the novel shows endless relationship possibilities but both characters know things they shouldn’t, and see constellations that are out of sync with the ones they see in the sky. Each lifetime reveals something more about the characters and are captivating with the emotions conveyed. The small cast of characters were cleverly weaved into each life and though different, they never lost the true personality and essence of themselves. They made me keep turning the page as did the mystery connecting the Thora and Santi together. Was it fate as gentle Santi believed? Or all about choice as spiky Thora believed? When I finished the last page, I longed to begin the story again to hunt for all the clues leading to the ending I never anticipated but found so satisfying.

The limited location of Cologne worked well and as I got to know Thora and Santi through their lives, I also felt connected to the place. It has made me add Cologne to the places I want to visit. 

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

Yes. Read a copy, absorb it and then find some fellow bookworms to chat to about it because it’s too great to keep to yourself, and the themes and plot needs unpicking and discussing. It’s a highly imaginative, captivating and emotional read with many threads to discuss making it perfect for book clubs or dark, wintry evenings when you need a novel with depth, and uniqueness that gets your neurons zinging with joy and intrigue.

This is one for my forever shelf and one I’m sure will be popular with those who visit the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Author: Catriona Silvey

Catriona Silvey was born in Glasgow and grew up in Perthshire and Derbyshire, which left her with a strange accent and a distrust of flat places. She overcame the latter to do a BA in English at Cambridge, and spent the next few years there working in scientific publishing. After that she did a PhD in language evolution, in the hope of finding out where all these words came from in the first place. Following stints in Edinburgh and Chicago, she returned to Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and a very peculiar cat. When she’s not working as a researcher studying meaning in language, she writes. Her short stories have been performed at the Edinburgh Literary Festival and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

Thank you Random Things Tour for the advanced copy for read so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading!

Love

NanoWriMo, Writing journey, Writing process

Dancing into NaNoWriMo and Rebelling Tips.

Hello November, one of my favourite times of year, not only because of the lingering high from Halloween and hurtling towards the festive feel of Christmas but it’s time for NaNoWriMo. The atmosphere of the writing community rises and there is always an explosion of support to keep people writing so it’s always hard not to get involved. Despite my success in 2018, the full challenge is out of my reach like many spoonie writers. The pressure of 1666 words a day is crippling and even with naps, it triggers flares and guilt. So I belong to the NaNoWriMo tribe of rebels and we all have our own ways of rebelling. I thought I’d share some things that have helped me.

My tips to being a NaNoWriMo rebel

1. The key thing of rebelling is to make up your own target. I’ve chosen 15,000 words but know it maybe too ambitious – I’ve already lost days to migraines and exhaustion but if I manage it, my first rough draft about my ballet quartet will be finished and that will be the ultimate achievement. Can I eek my manuscript of 66,660 words out to stumble over the 75,000 mark? Watch this space!

The fantastic author and co-founder of the Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illness (ACCI) group Claire Wade has developed one of the best rebel goals for author’s with limited energy, chronic illness or disability – the #PostItNaNo challenge. Aiming to write at least a Post-it note a day can be a huge step in the development of a story or character, and the dopamine rush of making progress without the pressure of hundred’s of words is a good inspiration for the next day.

#PostItNaNo challenge

2. Find your tribe, if you have fellow writers to connect with it and share ideas, good news and disappointments it makes the writing process easier and more fun

3. Join in with the community on social media or the NaNoWriMo site. The podcasts, zooms and general chitchat inspires more writing and determination to keep going.

4. Find someone to do sprints with. Writing sprints whether they last thirty minutes or an hour have become my friend. I’m lucky to have friends in the RNA to join forces with, but I have also discovered The Writer’s Hour which follows Neil Gaiman’s idea of ‘do nothing or write’. You can hop on to zoom at predetermined times during the day for an hour of writing and accountability. It’s a friendly group and best of all, they start with a writing related quote to give you a kick in the right direction. Click here for more information. Maybe I’ll see you there.

5. Rewards for achieving small goals even a sticker or favourite hot chocolate are a great motivator. Books as rewards are even better.

5. Don’t fall into the guilt trap. It zaps creativity. Even a couple of words a day is a step closer to your goal. I find this hard to do because guilt and imposter syndrome seem to be my default thoughts when faced with an empty page or rough rough draft of a scene.

6. Just enjoy the writing progress and remember why you’re doing it. Writing isn’t just about word count. It involves so much more – thinking time to grasp the idea you want to focus on and let it brew while doing other things (okay this could be classed as procrastination but if the story and characters are strong enough the mind will be working in the background without you realising it) and plotting on post its, and research. Everything counts. And the variety of actions helps keep the spark and fun alive.

7. If it all grinds to a halt and target isn’t achieved, take what you have done and celebrate. It’s progress and still deserve a treat.

However you’re doing NaNoWriMo good luck, keep going and happy writing.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

It’s been a while since I have read a horror book, but with Halloween galloping closer, I was excited to be invited to the blog tour for The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill. With a tag line ‘ Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’, I had high expectations. Scroll down to see if it exceeded them.

Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

Title: The Nightmare Tree

Author: Paul O’Neill

Publisher:

Genre: Horror, short stories

Release Date: 10th September 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

‘Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’

The debut short story collection from a fresh new voice. Thirteen tales of horror and suspense. In the forgotten places of Scotland, terror awaits.

‘Intriguing and heartfelt’

Contains the chilling stories: The Great Slime Kings – Three’s a Crowd – The Summer Bullet – The Only Emperor – Down Below is Silence and Darkness – Guardians – In a Jar of Spiders – We the Dark Deniers – Blocks – Nightmare Soup – The Dumps – Once Upon a Flame – The Nightmare Tree (novella).

Dare you stand before the Nightmare Tree and make your wish?

‘Oh my God!’

‘Powerful

My Thoughts

I’m very glad this was a collection of short stories and not a full length novel – I do not think my nerves will have coped. Whoever quoted the tagline was not lying; while I haven’t read any Iain Banks novels this collection was very classic Stephen King-esque without the excess waffle. These compact stories make every word count and were on the edge of being too horrifying for me which is an excellent sign for horror writing especially when this wasn’t because of over the top violence or goriness.

The power of these stories is the ability to tap into the reader’s imagination and allow it to fill in the gaps of the unsaid. I found myself trapped in the scenarios and nightmares on the page.  Paul O’Neill has the ability to transform the ordinary into something disturbing and horrifying. From his descriptions of the swamp in The Great Slime Kings, snow drifts in The Only Emperor, and the leaves slamming on the window panes in The Nightmare Tree, the effects of these stories will linger and unnerve me for a long time to come. Especially on damp nights when I have to venture outside to bring Nigel, our Jack Russell, in when he finds a toad.

Would I recommend?

If you love horror, give it ago but be warned, it made me sleep with the light one and despite immersing myself into festive books, my nerves haven’t recovered. They hit the spot in tension, fear and lingering chills.

Author Biography

Photo of Paul O'Neill Author
Paul O’Neill

Paul is a short story writer from Scotland.

He is a PR / Internal Communications professional who tries not to let the horror of corporate-speak seep into his stories. |

His stories have appeared in Scare Street’s Night Terrors series, Purple Wall Stories, and Fae Corps Press’ Nightmare Whispers anthology, with an upcoming story in Eerie River Publishing’s It Calls from the Doors anthology.

You can find him sharing his love of short stories on twitter @PaulOn1984. 

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

What are your favourite horror books? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love