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, 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

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

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue

It’s the run up to Halloween so I am pleased to share a witchy book to add to your Halloween reading list, All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donaghue.

Book Review: All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue

All Things Hidden by Caroline O’Donoghue Book Cover

Title: All Things Hidden

Author: Caroline O’Donoghue

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: YA fantasy, witch lit

Release date: 21st July 2021

Blurb

I’ll give up the tarot readings. I’ll apologize to Lily. 

But Lily doesn’t come to school on Monday. Or Tuesday. It’s not until Wednesday that the police show up. 

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.

Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her? And will their special talents be enough to bring Lily back, before she’s gone for good?

My Thoughts

I heard about this book via a friend who knows I have an interest in tarot. The blurb caught my attention. Overall, I enjoyed it. The beginning is slower paced and sets the scene, but by the middle I was as captivated as I hoped to be and couldn’t put it down. I needed to know where Lilly was and how Maeve would make things right, or if she could.

I loved how tarot and the card meanings were blended into the tale, but it was the author’s use of magic and witchcraft to delve into the world of homophobia, racism and privilege that made me love this story. It revealed parts of Irish culture I never knew about, as well as exploring the undercurrents and tension we see all over the world.

Maeve is a hard character to like, never mind love with her sense of privilege, outspoken and bratty nature. The cards force her to study her behaviour and see the hurtful consequences of her actions. It is a coming of age story and I would love to read more about what happens next. There is so much more to discover and I felt it was setting up to be a sequel with some threads left dangling.

Lilly is an unseen constant in the book, and you only hear Maeve’s voice and view of what happened. I would love to see Lilly’s viewpoint too because she sounds like she has so much to say.

Would you recommend?

If you love of folklore, tarot or witchcraft, this is a YA novel to try. The gentle pacing at the beginning explodes with excitement at the midpoint. It explores gender, bullying and extremism bundled into a magical tale. The eeriness of this novel reminded me of The Changover by Margaret Mahy, which was the book that introduced me to supernatural and fantasy genre as a teenager. Like that one, I will not forget this novel and I now have a new author to follow.

This would be a popular book on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf especially with the younger witches.

Love

All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

I am so excited to share my review for The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke on the run up to Halloween. I adore books seeped in the history of witches and this book promised just that and with a dark, menacing but beautiful cover, I just had to read. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

Title: The Lighthouse Witches

Author: C.J Cooke

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: witchlit, supernatural, gothic

Release Date: 30th September 2021

Blurb

The brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms. Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse? Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left. Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

My Thoughts

The Lighthouse Witches is a deliciously dark tale based on an isolated island in Scotland which automatically adds to the gothic atmosphere. The descriptions of the lighthouse’s interior gave it an ideal setting for an unnerving, fear based reading experience. Told by several narrators including an ancient grimoire it follows Luna who has to return to the island to discover what happened in 1998 when her mother and sisters disappeared but she is not as welcome to the close-knit community as she expected adding to the mystery and tension. With links to the 17th century Scottish witch trails, it grabbed my attention and did not release me until the end, but even then I keep finding myself lured back into thinking about it.

Midway I questioned how dark it was going to go and whether I needed to grab a cushion to hide behind, but it made me use my imagination for the darker moments which may have made things worse. The tension grew towards an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.

Would I recommend?

Yes. With strong female characters, many twists and turns and unique location this is one of my favourite books of the year and a perfect Halloween read.

As a page turner and with strong witch connections, this is a firm favourite on The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and loved by both Willow and Amber.

Author Biography

Photo of author C.J Cooke
Author C.J Cooke

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in twentythree languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

Other blogs on this tour

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.

Love