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Book Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Title: The Shape of Darkness

Author: Laura Purcell

Length: 398 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Raven

Synopsis: When silhouette artist Agnes’s clients start being mysteriously murdered, she approaches Pearl, a renowned child spirit medium to try and make contact and reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl soon discover they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

I know Laura Purcell is a hugely popular author, who many of my fellow bookstagrammers absolutely love, but I’ve never read a book by her before. So The Shape of Darkness is my first.

I really did enjoy this book. I found it super intriguing throughout and I can definitely say that Laura keeps her readers on their toes. I never knew what was going to happen and I absolutely love that.

We follow to main characters, Agnes and Pearl, as they team up to try and find out who is murdering Agnes’s customers. I really enjoyed the character of Agnes. From the start I just connected with her. I felt for her. It took me a little while to connect with Pearl, but I can definitely say she is an interesting character. There characters arcs and the way they connect is so interesting.

The Shape of Darkness is wonderfully gothic. It’s at times dark, and I’m not going to lie to you at times I was very creeped out. This book is really atmospheric. It’s also meticulously researched, you can tell. The detail Laura goes into about Agnes’s job as a Silhouette artist is phenomenal. It’s such an interesting aspect to the story.

I said earlier that this book is intriguing and keeps you on your toes and it’s true. You just never know where the story is going to go. And I will say I didn’t expect it to go that way. At all. I was so shocked. I won’t give anything away as I know so many of you are going to read this book, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when it happens.

I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s a wonderfully gothic, intriguing story with some character depth. I don’t think you’ll forget this book once you’ve read. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m off to buy Laura’s other books!

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out January 21st.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Title: How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

Author: Cherie Jones

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Tinderpress/Headline

Synopsis: In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, its the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Layla grows up, she sees it offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man. And Mira Whalen? It’s about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn’t get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all.

I am so thrilled to be on the blog tour for this amazing book, make sure to check out my these other reviews

Let me state this now, I absolutely loved this book. I loved it so much. I had high hopes, but this book surpassed them in every way. It is absolutely one of my favourite reads of the 2020, there is no doubt about that. It was in my top 10 of the year for 2020. It’s the book I’ve been recommending to everyone. So I’m absolutely recommending it to you. It’s brilliant.

I don’t want to say to much about the plot of this book, I want you to experience it for yourself. How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House (can I quickly mention what a fantastic title that is) is at times heartbreaking and it also at points made my stomach drop. It’s so immersive and I was absolutely enraptured from the beginning, I really was. It’s beautiful, it has something to say

We follow multiple perspectives in How The One-Armed Woman Sweeps Her House and they are all fantastic. I mean, my heart now belongs to Lala. Lala is one of our main protagonists along with Mrs Whalen. They are brilliant and complex. There’s also Adan and Tone. All the characters are so well crafted. I also loved how Cherie, mentioned characters throughout this novel and then they got their chapter perspectives and they are brilliant. It made the whole book feel so connected. My favourite is character that you get a snippet of is Sheba.

How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is the kind of book you can’t stop thinking about. I would be baking cakes at work and thinking of Lala. Or be thinking about where the plot was going to go. Or how I wanted to get home and read it. It’s also the kind of book you tell everyone about. I was telling everyone at work about this. Most of them don’t read (sad I know) but I just had to let them know about this book and how it was consuming all my thoughts.

The writing is absolutely phenomenal, Cherie has such a wonderful way with words. Chapter 25 is a masterpiece. The writing is just so assured. It’s so powerful and emotive. There are also some really tough moments in this book, but Cherie handles them so honestly. This is Cherie’s debut and it’s one of the best debuts I’ve ever reads. It’s so assured. I just think this book is outstanding. I don’t reread books but I know I’ll be rereading this one, just to experience the beautiful writing again.

By the end of this novel, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough. There was so much building up towards the end and there was such an atmosphere. I couldn’t believe what was happening and Cherie paced it perfectly. I won’t say anymore. All I’ll say it didn’t disappoint me in anyway. I also had to put the book down and really take in what happened. Ugh, it was so good.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Could you tell I loved it? Please read it. It’s a powerful, intimate debut that is unforgettable. I’m already looking forward to what Cherie writes next.

Thank you to Antonia at Tinder Press for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out on January 21st.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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November Wrap Up

Now, I’ve been on lockdown this whole month and I really thought I was going to read more, but of course these lockdowns are hard and my reading took a while to get going.

I really started off the month slowly, just not reading much. I was finding it really hard to concentrate. But when I finally did get going I read some brilliant books. Absolutely brilliant. But I don’t only manage to read seven books. Not great, but not bad. Still I’ve found a new favourite so it was a good month.

Towards the end of the month my reading sort of tapered off again. But hey, that’s lockdown for you.

Let’s talk about these books then shall we?

First up I read The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. This was a good book, not my favourite of the month, but still good. It kept me intrigued throughout. And I’ll definitely be checking out Laura’s other books. It’s out in January.

Next I read These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong and I really enjoyed this one. It took me a little why to get into it, but once I did I loved it. Great characters, a great story. Action packed. You can check out my full review here. Can I have book two now? This one is out now.

Then I read Between The World and Mw by Ta-nehisi Coates. This is a brilliant non-fiction book. I don’t think this is something you review. It’s just something you learn from. It’s a must read.

Up next was The Prophets by Robert Jones jr. Is this my new favourite book? I think so. It’s absolutely outstanding. The writing is phenomenal. Phenomenal. I can’t recommend it enough. This one is out January 5th. Thank you to Quercus books for my copy.

Then I read Love Is A Revolution by Renée Watson. This is a quick YA book that I really enjoyed. It had some fantastic characters, and I loved the message that this book gets across. This one is out in February. Thanks to Bloomsbury YA for my copy.

Next up was Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. This book was short but it really packed a punch. The writing was absolutely stunning. It really was stunning. This one is out in February and I can’t recommend it enough. I look forward to rereading it. Thanks to Viking Books UK for my copy.

Then I read While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. Loved this one. I love historical fiction and this is an excellent one. Thank you to Headline books for my copy. It’s out in March.

Lastly this month I read The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I absolutely loved this book. Brilliant characters, a brilliant story. I can’t stop thinking about this book.

So that was my reading for the month. Are you interested in any of these? Or have you read any? Let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: 10 minutes 38 seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Title: 10 minutes 38 seconds in this Strange World

Author: Elif Shafak

Length: 308 pages

Publisher: Viking Books UK

Synopsis: For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, the goat sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee the Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her…

Ahhhh I loved this book. Really loved it. I actually can’t stop thinking about it.

Let’s start with the premise. It’s genius. After our main character Tequila Leila has been killed, her brain continues to work for 10 minutes 38 seconds and that’s how we see her life. She remembers significant moments from her past and that’s how we get to know her.

The writing is beautiful throughout. From start to finish. It’s so beautiful, I was crying by page 20. Elif Shafak is a huge talent. She has such a unique Ann’s and so nsnnsndndndnenndnand distinctive voice. You can tell Elif has a real understanding of human souls and countries and religions. Is it weird to say I think she’s a genius. The whole book is so visceral.

Also, I can’t stop watching videos of Elif talking about her books and life on the internet. I highly recommend them and this book. I told you I think she’s a genius!

It’s full of characters that I won’t forget for a long time. They are just absolutely fantastic. Elif has given all these characters powerful, immersive voices. They are all minorities living in a religious country but Elif makes them so much more than this. It’s so hard to explain, but they encompass so much.

There really is a sadness to this novel, that doesn’t mean it’s depressing, it’s a beautiful sadness. It’s the kind of sadness that makes you think about life and what you want. How others are treated. What really happens after we die? This is all because of Elif Shafak’s glorious writing and the impact it has.

I 100% recommend this book. I am far too unintelligent to properly review this book. Elif Shafak brain is 10 times better than mine, so just do yourself a favour and read it. You won’t regret it I promise.

This one is out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘The Lie’ by Hilary Boyd

Title: The Lie

Author: Hilary Boyd

Length: 360 pages

Publisher: Micheal J Books

I was lucky enough to be sent this from the publisher and I couldn’t wait to get started on it.

Synopsis: Romy and Michael have it all. Over 30 years of marriage, two grown-up sons and a beautiful London home, as well as a weekend bolthole by the sea. Until the arrival of a letter changes everything. At first Romy can’t believe what it is saying. That Micheal could do something so terrible. But then other lies start to emerge and she begins to wonder who the man she’s shared her heart, her bed and the best years of her life with, really is. Walking away should be the start of a new chapter for Romy. But an urgent telephone call brings her back into Michael’s life – and propels her into the past and the allegations that ended their marriage.

I really enjoyed this book. It was difficult to put down. I read over 200 pages in one night and trust me, that never happens with me.

What kept me hooked was the question of who was lying. When a letter shows up at her house, Romy’s husband is accused of assaulting a teenage girl, Romy stays by her husband side to begin with after he denies it but she always doubts him. It was fascinating to read her perspective and I couldn’t wait to find out the truth. It was dealt with incredibly well, sensitively but honest and real.

‘The Lie’ was filled with such wonderful characters. Romy, the main character, was instantly likeable. I was just drawn to her. And as the story progressed, all I wanted was for her to stand up for herself and get her happy ending. You could tell she was doing what she thought she should do, and I so wanted her to choose herself. I won’t spoil it for you, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out if she does.

It also has a wonderful romance in it, which I was also invested in (incase you haven’t noticed I was invested in the whole book). It was organic and romantic. Much needed sweetness, with the main storyline being such a tough subject.

It also had a satisfactory ending. Often when books are leaving all the questions to be answered at the end it can be a bit of a let down, but I didn’t find that with ‘The Lie’. I couldn’t turn those pages fast enough to find out what happened and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s a sign of great writing and storytelling.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It was an intense story with fantastic characters, that was ultimately a struggle to put down. I throughly enjoyed it.

Thank you Michael Joseph Books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now. Make sure you check it out.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Fall Out by C.G. Moore

Title: Fall Out

Author: C.G. Moore

Length: 323 pages

Publisher: uclanpublishing

Synopsis: For Cal, coming out is explosive. But that is nothing to the fall out from his family, friends and foes. When events in Cal’s life reach critical, he is shaken to his core. Can he rely on his loved ones to help avoid meltdown?

I enjoyed the novel, some parts were definitely hit and miss, but overall an enjoyable with an important message that gets across to the reader.

There was a romance in the beginning of this book that I really didn’t like. It was rushed, unbelievable and it was definitely instalove. But I can say that it didn’t last to long, and it had a much better ending than beginning.

I also have to say I didn’t like the main character Cal at the beginning or his friendship with Em. The friendship was often tedious. There was also Cal relationship with Ems nan Peggy which also felt a bit random. There was just something off about if to me. However both get better as the characters develop but it still wasn’t enough to save them. All relationships just felt a bit forced to me.

The story line with Cal and his family is my favourite thing of the novel. It’s dealt with well and it’s heartfelt and meaningful. It felt was very real to me. It was the highlight of the novel.

Throughout the novel Cal is being bullied and it’s dealt with so well in the novel. It was descriptive and hard to read in the best way. It made my stomach drop at points. It captured the brutality of the kind of bullying LGBT+ kids go through and it’s heartbreaking. It also captures the ramifications well. It goes into a lot of detail and it defiantly needs some trigger warnings.

The conclusion to the story was what it needed to be. I think that’s fair to say that a good summary for the whole novel, it finishes stronger than it starts.

Thank you to C.G. Moore for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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WWW Wednesday – November 11th

We are in Lockdown here in the UK, and I hate to say it’s been affecting my reading. I just don’t want to pick up a book, but I can slowly feel it coming back so I figured I do a one of these blog posts to keep you all up to date.

What is WWW Wednesday? WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme where all you have to do is answer three simple questions. Look at me using the word meme! I feel so young!

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you finished reading recently?
  • What are you planning to read next?

Let’s talk about the books shall we?

What are you currently reading?

Ok so I’m currently reading The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr from Quercus Books. This is one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. I’m not very far in, I think around 60 pages, and it’s pretty incredible so far. I can just tell it’s going to be brilliant. The writing is so good. It’s out in January.

What have you finished reading recently?

I recently finished, just yesterday, Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it was absolutely brilliant. After the American election, I saw a video clip of Van Jones speaking so emotionally and eloquently about what it’s like to be a black parent in the US and I just knew I had to read this book. If you’re looking to further understand and educate yourself on Black History and racial inequality this is the book. It’s so moving and powerful. I highly recommend. Everyone should read this book. It’s out now.

What are you reading next?

This is such a hard question. I’m really trying to make my way through my proof books for next year. So it’s definitely going to be one of those, but which one is the choice to make. This is why I don’t set tbr’s because I can never stick to them. But I think it’ll be between these two.

Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson which is out in February

Or

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson which is also out in February.

They both sound incredible. Can someone pick for me?

Until the next review

JTH

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Title: The Death of Vivek Oji

Author: Akwaeke Emezi

Length: 245 pages

Publisher: Faber Books

Synopsis: One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son’s body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek’s birth, the day his grandmother died. It is the story of an overprotective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family’s struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognise himself.

I’ve seen a few of my fellow bookstagrammers rave about this book so it was definitely on my radar and then I was lucky enough to be sent a copy and I couldn’t just had to start it.

And what a beautiful book The Death of Vivek Oji is. It had so much I love in a book, amazing characters, beautiful writing, and an intriguing story.

Let’s talk about the writing. It’s the highlight of this book. It really is stunning. Akwaeke manages to capture beauty, heartache and, confusion. It’s stunning. I can say I was crying by page eleven. I’m pretty sure that’s a new record. But one line was just so beautiful and struck a cord with me.

Osita wished, much later, that he’d told Vivek the truth then, that he was so beautiful he made the air around him dull’

Every character in this book is so complex. Vivek goes on such a journey that is both heartbreaking and beautiful. Akwaeke has a real talent for capturing souls. At least that’s how it felt to me. Vivek felt so real, so fragile yet strong as they became who they really are. There was a point in this book where I just stopped and realised how much I cared for Vivek and I also realised that this book will probably break my heart. I also loved Osita, Juju and Elizabeth. I also loved Vivek mum. She goes on such a journey and it’s so beautiful. I’m sure you can tell it’s full of fantastic characters.

This book has fantastic representation and they are all dealt with brilliantly. Emezi has captured a trans narrative that felt so real that it’s the heart of this book. I’m calling the character Vivek in this review purely so I don’t ruin the journey for you. But I know that you’ll feel differently about the name once you’ve read it. There’s also a romance in this book that is beautiful, but is very controversial, you’ll know what I mean when you read it.

Also the ending of this book is brilliant. Throughout the book it’s a mystery what happened to Vivek and it’s so heartbreaking when you find out. It’s just sums up the whole energy of the book. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

I’ll be surprised if this isn’t in my top 10 books of the year.

I hope I’ve managed to get across how much I enjoyed this book and how much I want you too read it. It’s amazing and it’s out now. Also I refer to the main Character as Vivek throughout this review, as that’s what in the title of the book. But it is a story about transitioning, and finding your true self and I’ve decided to let you find out Viveks true name when you read it as it’s a beautiful moment.

Thanks to Faber Books for gifting me a copy of this book in return for an honest unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu

Title: The Private Joys of Nnenna

Author: Okechukwu Nzelu

Length: 310 pages

Publisher: Dialogue Books

Synopsis: As Nnenna Maloney approaches adulthood, she longs to connect to her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her close and tender relationship with her mother, Joanie, becomes strained as Nnenna begins to ask probing questions about her father, whom Joanie refuses to discuss. Nnenna is asking big questions about how to ‘be’ when she doesn’t know the whole of who she is. Meanwhile, Joanie wonders how to love when she has never truly been loved. Their lives are filled with a cast of characters asking similar questions about identity and belonging while grappling with the often hilarious encounters of everyday Manchester.

I have to say I loved this book. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, but I absolutely flew through it because I didn’t want to put it down.

In The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney we follow Nnenna as prepares to finish school, go to university and we see the strain in has on her relationship with her mother Joanie. Their relationship is the main focus of the book and its handled so delicately by Okechukwu. There’s lightness and you can feel the tension building.

It’s also a coming of age book, with Nnenna wanting to find out more about her father and her heritage. You can feel Nnenna’s longing and confusion. It’s really beautiful when she begins to discover who she is. I loved it.

There are so many characters in ‘The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney’ and they are all absolutely fantastic. They are so real. I just found myself absolutely endeared to all of them. I have to give a special shoutout to Jonathon. His story was incredible. I found this so emotional and so relatable. They are all so relatable because they’re written so beautifully and honestly. I loved how they all connected. Okechukwu knows how to craft characters.

This book has a lot of charm to it. I thinks it’s down to Okechukwu’s writing. It has these incredibly light and witty moments of Joanne and Nnenna playing games, or Joanie talking about every day moments, then it subtly shifts to much more meaningful, deeper and harder issues like the racism in the UK, or tension between Nnenna and Joanie. It’s just handled with dignity, honesty and grace. It’s a real highlight of the book.

I also have give a shoutout to a section of this book towards the end between to characters Amir and Daniel. It was handled perfectly. It was really beautiful. Okechukwu said so little but it said so much. I will never forget that powerful bit of writing.

I don’t know if you can tell from this review but I’m a huge fan of Okechukwu Nzelu’s writing. I can’t recommend this book to you enough. Please check it out.

Thank you to Dialogue Books for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E.Schwab

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author: V.E Schwab

Length: 541 pages

Publisher: Titan Books

Synopsis: France, 1714. A desperate woman makes a desperate deal in the dark – a bargain to live forever but be remembered by none. So begins the invisible life of Addie LaRue, shadow muse to artists throughout history, forgotten friend, confidante and lover, slipping away in the morning light. Addie passes through lives, desperate only to leave a trace of herself. Until the day she walks back into a small bookshop in Manhattan and meets Henry, who remembers her. After 300 years Addie’s life is restarting, but the devil never plays fair. As Henry and Addie’s lives start to intertwine, they must face the consequences of the decisions they’ve made and the prices to be paid.

Yes, I jumped on the hype train and preordered this book. And let me tell you I’m a very happy passenger (get it? Because I’m on the hype train!) because I absolutely love this book.

This is my first V.E.Schwab book (yes I know, it’s bad but the A Darker Shade of Magic series is on my tbr don’t worry) but I was surprised at how much I loved V.E Schwabs writing. It was absolutely beautiful. It was really comforting in a way, yet there were these really profound moments that I absolutely loved. It was beautiful I had to have a little cry. Pretty early on in the book. The whole book is written beautifully. It’s emotional, atmospheric and romantic.

It was such an immersive plot. It was the kind of book that I didn’t want to put down. In fact I didn’t put it down. It’s a dual plot timeline which is handled so beautifully by Schwab. I just absolutely loved how detailed it was. There were so many things in the plot that I wouldn’t have thought of (that’s why I’m not an author). There was also twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. It really surprised me and it gave the story some real excitement. And then there was another twist, that I feel like some people might have seen coming, but I obviously didn’t. This is very vague I know, but I refuse to ruin these surprises for you. The second twist also broke my heart.

Let’s talk about the ending shall we? Yes it broke my heart. I’d seen some people say that the ending disappointed them a bit, but I absolutely loved it. It really made me cry. I was just sitting in bed crying at 8pm on Wednesday. I had to stop reading and just sit and take it all in. You know it’s a good book when this happens. It was just so emotional. So emotional. And I’ll tell you why it’s emotional.

It’s because you absolutely fall in love with Addie. You really do. You see her in Paris in the 1700s just as she’s made the deal with the God coming to terms with everyone, and you see in her in 2014 as she’s living in New York and is fully adept to her situation. She’s just so strong and vulnerable. She’s funny. Honestly, you’ll just love her. But Addie isn’t the only great character, there’s also Luc. Even though he’s the ‘bad guy’ he definitely adds something to the book. And of course there’s Henry. My Henry. I felt for him, I loved him. There’s a sadness and loneliness to him that I adored.

The romance is so beautiful. It really is. It just filled my heart with so much joy. It’s also what makes the ending even more heartbreaking (but it definitely finishes strong). I just wanted Addie and Henry to live happily together forever. Is that too much to ask? There’s also a kind of but not really love triangle. You really believe the connection Schwab has crafted between them all. It definitely didn’t make me mad. And it also made the ending so powerful. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.

Incase you couldn’t tell I loved this book. It’ll be in my top ten for the year. I can’t recommend it to you enough. Now If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to reread this book.

Until the next review

JTH