Sunday 28 April 2024

BLOG TOUR: Birth of the Tiptons - Philip Davidson

This first part of the Tipton Saga is a romp through Victorian England with the first generation of the extraordinary Tipton family. It follows the twin Tipton boys growing up in a Black Country orphanage seeing the industrial revolution taking shape. However it appears an external force is pulling the strings on the boys. Not one force, but two, and this is because of their highly unusual parentage which they are initially unaware of.

In adulthood one brother joins the East India Company, the other a large industrial ironworks. They have a fallout and a near fatal fight in the half-built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, but they come together for George's application to the Great Exhibition of 1851. After a brush with royalty it becomes necessary to escape to the new world and lay low for five generations as the enormity of the fantasy and the destiny of their task is revealed. Starting in 2019 it is encumberment on their descendants, two beautiful women, to secretly begin this task.

What did I think?

Reading Birth of the Tiptons is like falling down the rabbit hole and I really enjoyed my trip.  It's a cross genre novel that mixes historical fiction with fantasy, which makes for a very entertaining read.

The Tipton twins are growing up in an orphanage and they have no idea who their parents are, even when they hear their father's voice in their head.  Their destiny has been mapped out from the moment of their birth in 1810 but there are dark and dangerous forces at work to try to disrupt this.  When their descendants in America discover a mysterious old trunk in 2019, they put themselves and their destiny at risk.

Told via flashbacks the story meanders through Georgian and Victorian England, imparting nuggets of historical fact like Easter eggs amongst the colourful and engaging storyline.  I felt like I had been in a time machine as I walked in the footsteps of the past and gazed at the sights and sounds of 19th century London.

Incredibly imaginative and very entertaining, Birth of the Tiptons is a brilliant start to the Tipton Saga and I can't wait to see what happens next.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Thursday 25 April 2024

Her Deadly Friend (The Gloucestershire Crime Series Book 1) - Rachel Sargeant

A random sequence of murders rocks West Gloucestershire. First one, then another. From calculated and clinical, to opportunist and frenzied. As the body count tops five, Detective Inspector Steph Lewis’s investigations point to Amy Ashby as chief suspect for the rampage.

Steph and Amy were arch enemies at school.

Amy, still seething with fury about what Steph did back then, refuses to let the detective stand in the way of her current hunt for a new man and a fresh start. This time, it is for keeps.

As the evidence mounts, Steph is convinced of Amy’s guilt. But is Steph obsessed with a schoolgirl vendetta that could wreck her career and destroy her family? Or is she closing in on a deadly killer?

Her Deadly Friend is the first book in the Gloucestershire Crime Series, featuring DI Steph Lewis, a spirited, no-nonsense detective with secrets of her own.

What did I think?

Wow!  This book is absolutely fantastic!  Even better, it's the start of an exciting new crime series and I'm already chomping at the bit to visit the fictional town of Gleveham again.

The story begins with a bullying incident at school.  Steph and her friend appear to be bullying Amy, but you get the feeling that you're not quite seeing the whole picture...and indeed you're not.  Rachel Sargeant cleverly puts an element of doubt in your mind, making you wonder what really happened and who is telling the truth.  Almost 30 years later Steph and Amy are about to cross paths again and sparks are sure to fly.

There is so much going on in this book; it has more hooks than a fisherman's tackle box and I was hooked from page one.  There's more to the bullying story from the past than meets the eye, both Steph and Amy are unknowingly being stalked and Steph is investigating a series of murders.  Murders that lead Steph to Amy's door and old wounds are reopened.  Is Steph targeting Amy once again?

I just couldn't read Her Deadly Friend fast enough.  I tore through it at a rate of knots and enjoyed every minute of it.  The writing is flawless and the plot is so twisty and original that I didn't see any of it coming.

Unpredictable and unputdownable, Her Deadly Friend is a fantastic police procedural and an outstanding start to an exciting new series.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Holiday Escape - Heidi Swain

Her dream holiday is his everyday life. His dream holiday is her normal life. What happens when they collide?
Ally and her dad, Geoff, run the family business, a creative retreat, from their home Hollyhock Cottage in picturesque Kittiwake Cove. They give their guests their dream break, but Ally hankers after glamourous city living, fancy restaurants and art galleries.

Ally’s survival strategy is to escape out of season, take a break abroad and pretend to be the person she always imagined she would be. She meets Logan while she’s away and he turns out to be exactly the kind of distraction she’s looking for.

With her spirits restored, Ally returns home, picks up the reins again and sets her sights on another successful season, but when Logan unexpectedly arrives on the scene, she soon realises she’s in for a summer that’s going to be far from straightforward…
A story about bringing a holiday home – and what happens when what goes on on holiday comes back to bite you…

What did I think?

I absolutely adored Heidi Swain's new novel, The Holiday Escape and I felt bereft when my virtual visit to Kittiwake Cove came to an end.  Although, as with all Heidi Swain books, I left Kittiwake Cove with a warm glow in my heart and a huge smile on my face.

Ally appears to be living her dream life, running the family business with her dad, but staying in Kittiwake Cove wasn't part of her life plan.  Torn between familial duty and her own happiness, Ally comes up with a compromise: she will take an annual short break from her real life and live the dream life she thought she would be living.

On one such trip, Ally meets Logan in Barcelona and has the most amazing time until it's time to return home.  The last person Ally expects to see turning up to rent her holiday cottage is Logan and she has some explaining to do.  

Oh I just loved this whole book from start to finish.  Ally's lovely relationship with her dad and her longstanding friendship with Flora bring a smile to my face just thinking about them now.  There is so much going on in the book to keep the reader entertained and there's a real rollercoaster of emotions to experience throughout the story.  I loved every single character and I even loved the return of Terrible Tara, Flora's old nemesis.

Entertaining, charming and so incredibly heartwarming, pack your virtual bag and head off to Kittiwake Cove for a few days.  You're guaranteed to enjoy your trip as much as I did.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Keep It in the Family - John Marrs

In this thrilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets—and not all of them are confined to the past.

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a shocking message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their home was once a real-life murder house, with the evidence still concealed within the four walls.

In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Tormented by the terrible things she saw, she is desperate to dig into the past to find answers.

Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family—but will the previous tenants stop her from discovering their secret?

What did I think?

Keep It in the Family is another cracking novel from the Master of Shocking Twists, John Marrs.  What a dark and twisted mind you have, Mr Marrs! 

The story is told from several points of view and brilliantly interspersed with excerpts from various media such as newspapers, TV documentaries and even an autopsy report.  Mia never really settled into the Hunter family after she married Debbie and Dave's only son, Finn.  Not matching up to Finn's perfect ex-girlfriend and failing to produce a grandchild doesn't help her case with the in-laws.  Mia and Finn's relationship is strong though, isn't it?  

Mia and Finn's relationship is well and truly tested when they buy an old house and Mia finds out that she's pregnant.  Their own home and a much wanted baby should be the stuff that dreams are made of but, as this is a John Marrs book, it turns into a nightmare.  The gruesome discovery in the attic sets off a chain of events that keep the pages turning at a rate of knots until all of the secrets are revealed.

So fast-paced I'm surprised I didn't have blisters on my fingers as I whipped the pages over at full speed, Keep It in the Family is deliciously dark and incredibly twisted.  This is a book that you will be up all night reading once you pick it up, which is just as well as the disturbing plot will give you nightmares.  Very highly recommended.

I received a gifted paperback for the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday 22 April 2024

Long Weekend - SM Thomas

An exclusive invitation to a luxurious island resort should be the holiday of a lifetime for Emma. But beneath the lavish settings and indulgent amenities, lies a sinister plot waiting to be uncovered.

Emma's boss, Rebecca, gifted her the ticket to Hotel Horizen's grand opening, but Emma has her own agenda - to write a tell-all article about the rich and famous guests. Little did she know, this weekend would become a nightmare she never could have imagined.

As she delves deeper into the secrets of the elite, Emma realises she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Will she uncover the truth and make her mark as a journalist, or will she become the next victim in this twisted game of power and deception?

If you enjoyed "The Guest List" by Lucy Foley or “One by One” by Ruth Ware, you won't want to miss this gripping thriller.

What did I think?

SM Thomas draws the reader into Long Weekend from the very start as it is clear from the first page that something terrible has happened.  Now that's what I call a hook!  So put on your virtual running shoes when you pick up Long Weekend as you're sure to race your way through this book like I did.

Journalist Emma is clearly the odd one out on the guest list for the opening of Hotel Horizen as all of the other guests are rich and famous.  They are so self-centred that they don't seem that bothered about who Emma is and why she's on the plane with them.  The guests had to hand over their mobile phones on arrival but Emma has a hidden camera but it becomes increasingly clear that her photos might never make it off the island...and nor might she.

Oh the suspense is palpable and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough whilst sitting on the edge of my seat and biting my nails.  I had no idea how the story was going to play out and I loved every minute of it.

Gripping, addictive and thrilling, Long Weekend is filled with secrets and suspense.  It would make a fantastic holiday read as you're lying by the pool but beware of any rustling in the bushes.  Eeeek!

Many thanks to the author for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Friday 19 April 2024

BLOG TOUR: Edge of the Land (The Merseyside Crime Series Book 3) - Malcolm Hollingdrake

Edge of the Land is the thrilling third novel in the Merseyside crime series from Malcolm Hollingdrake, author of the best-selling Harrogate crime series.

The waterways of the Liverpool docks contain many ghosts and shadows. It’s a place to disappear… a place to die.

Detective Inspector April Decent and Detective Sergeant Skeeter Warlock are fearful for the welfare of a vulnerable young man injured in an attack ordered by drug dealers. Originally questioned at the scene, the young man denies the attack and refuses to co-operate with the police. He soon disappears. Clues to his whereabouts are sown, a cry for help maybe, but he remains elusive.

At the same time, the team are dealing with a spate of deaths in the city. The one thing the deaths have in common: the victims are all homeless and seemingly ravaged by addiction. Initially, the deaths are not considered to be suspicious as there is no obvious connection. Soon the hallmarks of murder are discovered and a hunt for a potential serial killer is on.

Is there a link between the missing man and the deaths? Could he be the vital piece of the puzzle which will solve the mystery behind the brutal murders?

What did I think?

Edge of the Land is the third book in The Merseyside Crime Series and it can most definitely be read as a standalone as I haven't read the first two books in the series and I absolutely loved it.

As soon as I turned the first page of Edge of the Land I knew I was in for a literary treat.  Malcolm Hollingdrake's exquisite writing sets such a vivid scene that I felt as if I'd dived head first into the book and found myself in Liverpool.  I've been a fan of Malcolm Hollingdrake's writing for many years now and just when I think he's at the top of his game, he goes and raises the bar again.

The city of Liverpool and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are almost characters in their own right as they seem to live and breathe throughout the book.  The main characters are so well drawn that I had to keep reminding myself that they aren't real people.  I was sad to leave them when I turned the final page but it has definitely encouraged me to revisit DI Decent and DS Warlock by reading the previous books in the series.

Perfectly plotted and exquisitely crafted, Edge of the Land is a magnificent piece of crime fiction and you'll be hard pressed to find a better one...until Malcolm writes his next book.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Thursday 18 April 2024

BLOG TOUR: A Sicilian Affair - Susan Lewis

A fresh start where no-one knows her name is exactly what Catie is looking for from her Sicilian escape.

When Catie meets handsome Giancarlo, she has stumbled across a love that could last forever... If only she can admit the truth about her past.

But the scars of betrayal from her broken marriage and fragile family are only part of the story.

Some secrets are too devastating to share...

What did I think?

You're always guaranteed a good read with a Susan Lewis book and The Sicilian Affair is no exception.  I was completely swept away to the picturesque island of Sicily and I really enjoyed my virtual trip.

It's a dual timeline novel as Catie writes about her past in order to come to terms with the tragic events that have happened to her over the years.  Catie had more than her 10 minutes of fame in the past so she escapes to Sicily where nobody knows her.  Catie wasn't looking for love but when she meets the enigmatic Giancarlo the attraction is instant.  Both Giancarlo and Catie have secrets though and sharing them might mean the end of their fledgling relationship.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Catie's past and found it incredibly emotional as events unfolded.  It's also lovely to see a burgeoning relationship between two older people who deserve a bit of happiness as life is far too short and you should never stop looking for your other half.

Incredibly atmospheric, heartwarming and emotional, A Sicilian Affair is another fabulous novel from Susan Lewis.  It's the perfect holiday read but remember to pack your tissues.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of fifty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including I Have Something To Tell You, One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold over three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. 

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dog, Mimi. 

Follow Susan Lewis on:
Instagram: @susanlewisbooks

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Monday 15 April 2024

Swanna in Love - Jennifer Belle

It's the summer of 1982 and fourteen-year-old Swanna Swain is the only one left at camp.

The place is a ghost town by the time her mother Val finally shows up six hours late- stoned and radiant- in a Ford pickup driven by Borislav, her new young Russian lover.

Assuming she is headed home to her air-conditioned Upper West Side apartment, Swanna and her lovable younger brother Madding are instead dragged to Vermont: to an artist colony where kids are not welcome and they are forced to sleep in the back of the truck, while Val is cosy inside the house with the Russian.

Then Swanna meets Dennis, a handsome married father of two, at a bowling alley, and, knowing a thing or two about seduction from Judy Blume, her best friend at camp, and her own parents' many affairs - she sets out to convince Dennis to help her. But love seldom obeys rules, and even a tough, smart, city girl like Swanna might not be able to handle falling in love.

Best-selling novelist Jennifer Belle returns with her first novel in fifteen years with a kind of inverse Lolita that explores adolescent desire from the girl's point of view. In turns hilarious and wildly shocking, Swanna In Love is the most unmissable book of the summer.

What did I think?

Wow!  I am positively breathless after racing through Swanna in Love, the breathtaking new novel from Jennifer Belle.  I read it in one sitting and it may as well have been superglued to my hands as I simply couldn't put it down.  I have never read Lolita and I thought the book might have been a little outside my comfort zone but it's just fantastic.

With a mother so flightly she could virtually take off and a father who doesn't seem that bothered about his children, it's no wonder that Swanna looks for affection elsewhere.  Swanna not only looks older than her 14 years, she acts like it too so it's no wonder that she draws attention from men, who may or may not be horrified to find out how young she actually is.  

When Swanna begins a relationship with a married man (and oh he's so weak-willed), I got the feeling that Swanna knew exactly what she was doing.  Is Swanna a seductress or is Dennis a paedophile?  That's the question that was on my lips throughout the book; I thought I would have been enraged at Dennis but I didn't feel as angry as I expected.

Jennifer Belle has created such a funny, likeable and smart character in Swanna and her voice shouts out loud and clear throughout.  I laughed out loud so many times at things that Swanna said, thought or did; in fact, I don't think I've laughed out loud so much when reading a book that's doesn't claim to be in the comedy genre.

Addictive, enthralling, shocking and hilarious, Swanna in Love is easily one of the best books I've read this year.  I'm so pleased I requested a review copy, as I very nearly didn't.  I really can't recommend it highly enough; pick one up and let Swanna surprise you.

I received an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Friday 12 April 2024

Game On - Matt Cain

Toddington FC defender Tom Horrocks is never happier than when he's on the football pitch, but when it comes to love, he's hiding a big secret. Worried about his young daughter and sick father - and with his team finally in the Premier League - he avoids all media.

Journalist Cosmo Roberts wants to change the world, so is angry when he's sent to a quiet northern town to cover a sport he sees as anti-gay. Then something about Tom catches his eye.

Cosmo hates football. Tom hates journalists.

Perhaps this time they've both met their match.

What did I think?

I picked up Game On by Matt Cain one afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished. 

What a cracking Quick Reads book it is and I absolutely loved the main characters of Tom and Cosmo. There’s a huge message in the book to be true to yourself and put your own happiness first once in a while. 

It’s also a great book for football fans, especially long suffering fans who can only dream of their team playing in the Premier League. I may support such a team but Toddington FC have certainly scored a place in my heart; not only do they play in my favourite colour of purple but they do something else that put a smile on my face.

You can pick up a copy of this fabulous book for just £1 or read it for free at your local library.

I received a gifted copy to read and review and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About Quick Reads:

Quick Reads plays a vital role in addressing the UK's adult literacy crisis, engaging the one in three adults who do not regularly read for pleasure and the one in six adults who find reading difficult. Since the programme launched in 2006, over 5.3 million Quick Reads have been distributed with over 6.14 million registered library loans.

The titles are available for just £1 at bookshops and are free to borrow from libraries. They are used across the country in colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals, and adult learning organisations.

The six titles announced on 11 April 2024 will also be gifted as part of World Book Night 2024, The Reading Agency's annual drive to create a nation of readers. With the support of this year's publishers, copies of the books will be given away to organisations including care homes, youth centres, homelessness centre, prisons, hospitals and other organisations through public library partners.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, said: 'We are incredibly excited as we unveil the remarkable line-up of authors collaborating with Quick Reads to publish a bitesize book for 2024 - and we thank them and all the publishers for their support to this life-changing programme. We would also like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Jojo Moyes for the generous donation in 2020-2022 which helped to shape the future of the initiative. This year we are proudly supported by Penguin Random House and Hachette who have contributed funding to the programme We will be celebrating Quick Reads as part of World Book Night 2024 in our continued mission to bring high quality, fun and accessible books to a wider audience to discover the transformative power of reading.'

Saturday 6 April 2024

Husbands: Love and Lies in La-La Land - Mo Fanning

In Hollywood, every pavement star tells a story. Not all of them shine.

Wannabe actor Kyle Macdonald is down on his luck. Working as a supply teacher in an inner-city Birmingham school, he's single again at 28, and sleeping in his childhood bedroom beneath a 'Hard Candy' Madonna poster.

He gets a call claiming he drunkenly married top Hollywood director Aaron Biedermeier in Vegas six years ago. Rather than panic, he sees a golden ticket to fame and the life he's always fantasised about.

But the glamorous veneer of Los Angeles - non-stop sunshine, celebrity actors and exclusive hotel suites - starts to crack, revealing a darker, corrupt underbelly to La-La Land. Kyle digs deeper into his so-called husband's past, unearthing disturbing allegations of abuse and underage sex parties.

With the help of Biedermeier's fiancé, actor Noah Winters, he embarks on a cross-country race to unravel the mystery and expose the truth - finding love along the way.

What did I think?

I am so pleased that I picked up Husbands by Mo Fanning as I absolutely loved it.  Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down and wished I'd started it earlier in the day as I was furious that I had to put it down to go to sleep.  

Husbands touches on some serious subjects that completely broke my heart as these things really happened to lots of young actors but Mo Fanning writes respectfully and sensitively whilst still highlighting these issues.  The story itself is very entertaining and it's filled with dark humour that made me laugh out loud.

Most of my laughs came from the main character Kyle, or 'Kyle, man!' as I referred to him in my head every time he did something stupid (so pretty much all the time).  Only Kyle could drunk marry a Hollywood director in Las Vegas, go home to Birmingham (England) and completely forget about it.  Kyle, man!  Your acting dreams could have come true!   

So telling his parents he's off to Manchester (Kyle, man!), Kyle jumps on a plane and dives into the shark infested waters of LA LA Land.  Thank goodness he told his friend Milly where he was going - she deserves a medal for trying to keep him out of trouble.  What follows is an adventure-filled road trip with Kyle's husband's new fiancé to discover the truth about what actually happened in Vegas.

Hugely entertaining, dark and addictive, Husbands is as bingeworthy as a Netflix series and is surely destined to make it on to our screens in the future.  I loved the beginning, the middle and the end - very highly recommended.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Wednesday 3 April 2024

BLOG TOUR: Maya's Laws of Love - Alina Khawaja

Maya Mirza is so convinced she’s unlucky in love and life that she’s come up with a list of laws to explain it. Most importantly…

* Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

But that’s about to change. Maya’s headed to Pakistan for an arranged marriage with a handsome, successful doctor who ticks all the right boxes. First comes marriage, then comes love  – she’s sure of it. Except…

* Trips are never smooth sailing.

From the start, Maya's journey is riddled with disaster, and the cynical lawyer seated next to her on the plane isn’t helping. Until a storm leaves them stranded in Switzerland, and she and Sarfaraz become unlikely travel companions. And maybe something more…

* When you think you’re lucky, think again.

Before long, Maya’s wondering whether she’s just experienced the ultimate in misfortune – finally meeting the right man a few days before she has to marry someone else. 

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, Maya's Laws of Love is one of the most romantic books I have ever read.  This is proper swoony romance that makes your heart race and your breath catch and I loved every minute of it.

Maya believes that she is cursed so she sets up her own list of laws that start with Murphy's Law (Anything that can go wrong will go wrong) so she's always prepared for disappointment and bad luck.  Maya's laws are brought to life in an often comical fashion when she travels from Canada to Pakistan to get married and almost every obstacle is put in her way to try to prevent her from getting to her wedding on time.  One such obstacle is the man that Maya sits next to on the plane, a man with beautiful dark eyes that you can lose yourself in, a man who is not her fiancé.

I really enjoyed reading about a different culture and I found the customs and events of the wedding celebration fascinating.  I love how it's all woven into the story and it creates so many memorable moments in Maya's story.  Maya has such a strong voice and it shines through in Alina Khawaja's colourful writing.  I can totally see this wonderful book being made into a Netflix show (please pick this one up, Netflix!). 

Sweet, charming and surprisingly funny, Maya's Laws of Love is a must read for romance readers or anyone looking for something different and entertaining to read.  I absolutely adored it and I wanted to read it again the moment I finished it as I didn't want this gorgeous story to end.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday 1 April 2024

Maybe It's About Time - Neil Boss

Two people trapped in their different worlds. One by wealth and one by poverty. Twenty years working for The Firm has given Marcus Barlow everything he wants but has taken his soul in return. Finding a way to leave has become an obsession.

Claire Halford’s life hits rock bottom when she is caught stealing food from Tesco Express. Left alone by her husband with two small children and an STI, her suicide music is starting to play louder in her head.

A chance meeting brings them together. As a mystery virus from China starts to run riot across the country, their world’s collide and they find they have more in common than they knew.

Set in the early months of 2020, Maybe It’s About Time is a story about the difficulty of changing lives for the better. Starting as a funny and satirical view of the egocentric world of professional services, it gives way to a heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship that rejuvenates Marcus and Claire, giving them both hope for a better future.

What did I think?

Maybe It's About Time is a poignant and powerful novel set during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020.  Although I'm sure none of us will ever forget this horrific time, it is brought back to life in a haunting and sensitive way through Neil Boss' carefully crafted writing.  Each chapter ends with the date and this simple but powerful sentence felt like a death knell; it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it now.

Marcus and Claire live completely different lives.  Marcus and has family want for nothing as Marcus has a well paid job in the city; a job that Marcus hates.  Claire's husband left her with two young children and her benefits don't provide enough money to feed them.  The stark contrast between wealth and poverty is disturbing but very sobering to read.  I feel incredibly fortunate that I've never had to worry about putting food on the table.

Marcus's work life really resonated with me as I was guilty of living to work rather than working to live in my last job.  I think if you've ever worked in an office you will appreciate Marcus's chapters more as I found it very entertaining.  I'm glad I wasn't working during the pandemic as I would have never got any work done for all the Zoom calls.

There are some very funny moments in the book that had me laughing out loud and the humour is very well balanced as it doesn't detract from the seriousness of the pandemic situation.  Even though I had an idea what was going to happen, it still brought a tear to my eye at the end.  There are a few unresolved parts of the story that have left it open for a sequel and I can't wait to read what happens next.

Haunting, emotive and compelling, I laughed and I cried whilst reading this beautifully written book.  It's an important and powerful novel that everyone should read and I really can't recommend it highly enough. 

I received a gifted paperback for the Love Books Tours readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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