My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott

my mothers shadow

I met Nikola Scott at the Headline Blogger Night in February, and I was delighted when Becky Hunter offered to send me a copy of her debut novel, My Mother’s Shadow, to review.

Addie thinks she knows everything about her mother. But when a stranger appears claiming to be her sister, she realises that her life so far has been a lie. But why?

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot for My Mother’s Shadow, as I think that the above synopsis gives sufficient detail without giving too much away.  Whilst the idea of a stranger turning up unannounced and claiming some form of kinship isn’t entirely new, I found that Scott’s spin on this was refreshing and a little different in the how and why to other similar books.  The story unfolds slowly, and is told from the dual perspectives of Addie in the present day with flashbacks from Elizabeth’s diary from the late 50s when she was in her late teens.  In this way, the reader always knows a little more than Addie, although there are a few little twists towards the end of the novel which prevent it from being predictable, and I thought that the plotting and eventual outcome was incredibly well done, with all of those little questions neatly answered by the end.

I have to admit that it did take me a little while to warm to the characters.  I constantly wanted to tell Addie to stand up for herself, and while she’s nice, her being bullied into something or other by those around her got a little tiresome.  However, once I had progressed a little further into the novel, I did find myself warming to Addie as I came to understand her more, and I loved it when she (finally!) stood up to her sister, Venetia, who is a demanding and pretentious human being.  Then there’s Elizabeth, who we see as a young woman through the diary extracts, but only through the eyes of others in the present day.  My opinion of Elizabeth was also one that I had to adjust as the story and her circumstances became clearer, and I think that the only person I had judged correctly was Venetia.

This is a beautifully written novel!  I adored the opening paragraph (and I’m hoping that Headline will forgive me for quoting from a proof copy here!), but I had to share this with you:

There are many things this house has seen and secrets it has heard, whispered things in the night that drift on the breeze and curl around chimneys and slate-covered gables, mullioned windows and white pebbled paths, wind their way through roses and rhododendrons and the trees of old Hartland Orchard.  Loves found and lost, the pain of unexpected death and the deliciousness of forbidden trysts.  Midnight tears and laughter in summer nights, all the dreams to be dreamed and all the worlds to be found.  The house has kept them, without question, without judgement, preserving them in the shadows of its walls.

I found this passage, and many others, to be absolutely captivating.

My Mother’s Shadow is an intriguing tale, and if I found it a little slow to start, the pace soon picked up once the scene had been set.  The tale is a compelling one, and I wanted to know the how and the why.  I had multiple questions around the story and I did wonder at times how it would all come together.  I won’t share that with you, of course, but it does all come together brilliantly by the end.

My Mother’s Shadow is available to buy now on Kindle, and will be published in paperback on 21 September.  Many thanks to Becky Hunter at Headline for the proof.

Rating: ★★★★★

This Week in Books – 02-08-17

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

I recently finished reading My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott, which I really enjoyed – my review will be up soon!

my mothers shadow

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever.


My current read is Yesterday by Felicia Yap – I’ve only just started it, but I have high expectations for this!

yesterday

There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police?

Can you trust your husband?

Can you trust yourself?


My next read will probably by All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker.  I loved Whitaker’s debut, Tall Oaks, so I’m a little nervous about reading this, but I have seen positive reviews from Annie and Renee, so I’m a bit more relaxed about it now!

all the wicked girls

‘Raine sometimes complains that nothing exciting is ever gonna happen in Grace again. Daddy told her careful what you wish for.’

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer goes missing.

Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye…


And that’s my week in books!  What are you reading this week?  Let me know in the comments!

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update

beat-the-backlist-2017

Another month gone, and I’m still woefully behind in Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge, although I did manage to tick off three titles from my backlist this month:

  • Way Down Dark and Dark Made Dawn by J. P. Smythe which I enjoyed but didn’t get chance to review
  • The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 – 2047 – which I started, but wasn’t really enjoying so I gave up on it ☹ (it had great potential, but there was so much focus on the economics that I just couldn’t get into it)

TBR Watch

I was doing really well this month, and I only bought two books – History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund and Exit West by Mohsin Hamid following the Booker Prize longlist announcement.

But I received two books to review, and three other books arrived:

  • Out of Bounds by Val McDermid from Susan at Books from Dusk Till Dawn
  • The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker from Zuky at Book Bum
  • House of Fiction by Phyllis Richardson – a book I backed through Unbound which explores the houses that inspired various works of fiction

So, my TBR hasn’t gone down quite as much as I’d hoped, but it has gone down!

TBR 1 Aug 17

Unique Blogger Award

unique blogger award

Many thanks to Mischenko who blogs at ReadRantRock&Roll for nominating me for the Unique Blogger Award.  Mischenko’s is a blog that’s quite new to me, but one that I’m really enjoying.  I particularly like the Wednesday “Breakfast and a Book” posts!

The Rules

Share the link to the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.

Answer the questions.

In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.

Ask them three questions.

Mischecnko’s Questions

  1. If you were to write a non-fiction book, what would be your subject of choice?

I’d love to say that I’m expert in some particular field, maybe related to the industry in which I work, but the truth is that I’m not, and I work in financial services, which few people are all that interested in.  Thus, any non-fiction book I wrote would undoubtedly be related to books in some way.  As a lover of post-apocalyptic fiction, I quite like the idea of reviewing the various ends that have been imagined for us, and maybe assessing the likelihood of each one actually happening.  Morbid perhaps, but I’d find it interesting.  (There’s a reason I’m not writing a non-fiction book!)

  1. Name a book that you extremely disliked this year, or last?

Earlier this year, I read Enduring Love for my book group, and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I don’t think it was a bad book, it just wasn’t to my taste.  An interesting idea, but the delivery didn’t do it for me.  I’m not averse to reading other novels by McEwan, however.

  1. Which author would you enjoy meeting the most? Doesn’t have to be living.

For me it would have to be Sir Terry Pratchett.  I’ve technically met him at a book signing, but it was so brief (and several years ago!) and as one of my favourite authors, I’d have loved the opportunity to sit down with him and just chat and laugh at the world.

My Nominations

Stuart at Always Trust in Books

Tina at Reading Between the Pages

Natalie at The Owl on the Bookshelf

Laura at Snazzy Books

Jo at Over the Rainbow Book Blog

My Questions

  1. What’s your favourite book of 2017 so far?  And I am going to insist upon a single book!
  2. I love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and the idea of being able to jump into and out of different books.  If you could jump into any book, what would it be and why?
  3. What is your favourite quote?

2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist

booker logo 2017

The 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist has been announced, and I was delighted to see that I had correctly predicted 5 of the 13 titles!  I’m sure it was more luck than judgement, but after last year’s disappointing result, it was extremely pleasing.  And, I am indeed kicking myself for not including Ali Smith’s Autumn on my list – it was a close call.

I’m quite pleased with this year’s long list – I think that there are some interesting titles here, and I may have bought a couple of them already!  I won’t be able to read all of these ahead of the short list announcement, although I will read a few before then, and will try to read all of the short list when the time comes.


4 3 2 1

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer’s extraordinary career.

I do enjoy novels about the different routes a life may take based upon the decisions we make, so I’m intrigued by this one. 


days without end

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, fight in the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Having both fled terrible hardships, their days are now vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. But when a young Indian girl crosses their path, Thomas and John must decide on the best way of life for them all in the face of dangerous odds.

I picked up a copy of Days Without End at this year’s Hay Festival, and I’m really excited to read it, having heard good things about it.


history of wolves

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.

So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into their orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong.

Yet something isn’t right. Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?

I really like the sound of this, so much so that I’ve already bought a copy!


exit west

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

This is another novel that I really like the sound of, and, again, I’ve already bought a copy!


solar bones

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)

Marcus Conway has come a long way to stand in the kitchen of his home and remember the rhythms and routines of his life. Considering with his engineer’s mind how things are constructed – bridges, banking systems, marriages – and how they may come apart.

Mike McCormack captures with tenderness and feeling, in continuous, flowing prose, a whole life, suspended in a single hour.

I’ve heard good things about Solar Bones, although if I’m honest, it doesn’t really appeal to me personally. 


reservoir 13

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK) (4th Estate)

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

I’ve not read anything by Jon McGregor, although I do have a copy of one of his earlier novels on my TBR, and he’s an author who has been recommended to me, so I may give this one a go.


elmet

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)

Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

There’s always something on the list that I’ve not heard of before, and this year is no exception.  I do like the sound of this, however.


the ministry of utmost happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)

The first novel in 20 years from the Booker-prize winning author of The God of Small Things.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on a journey of many years-the story spooling outwards from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi into the burgeoning new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war, and where, from time to time, ‘normalcy’ is declared.

Anjum, who used to be Aftab, unrolls a threadbare carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home. A baby appears quite suddenly on a pavement, a little after midnight, in a crib of litter. The enigmatic S. Tilottama is as much of a presence as she is an absence in the lives of the three men who loved her.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration. It is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, mended by love-and by hope. For this reason, they are as steely as they are fragile, and they never surrender. This ravishing, magnificent book reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.

I’ve not read Roy’s previous (Booker winning) novel, but if I’m honest, this doesn’t really appeal – that is judging purely on the synopsis from Amazon, however.


lincoln in the bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury)

The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven-year-old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

I’ve been intrigued by this since it was first published earlier this year, but haven’t got around to reading it.  Maybe now’s the time!


home fire

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury)

Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.

Another one on the list that I’ve not heard of, although I think I can be forgiven for that, given it’s not published until September – just before the announcement for the short list.


autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)

Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art (via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery), Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.

Autumn is the first instalment in Ali Smith’s novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

I wasn’t a massive fan of Smith’s previous novel, How To Be Both, but I do quite like the sound of this.


swing time

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, black bodies and black music, what it means to belong, what it means to be free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten either.

Bursting with energy, rhythm and movement, Swing Time is Zadie Smith’s most ambitious novel yet. It is a story about music and identity, race and class, those who follow the dance and those who lead it . . .

I’ve read two Zadie Smith novels – On Beauty which I enjoyed, and White Teeth, which I wasn’t all that keen on.  This sounds good, although I think that there are others on the long list that I would prioritise over this.  It does feel like Smith is due the Booker though…


the underground railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US) (Fleet)

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

It feels as though this is a book that could win ALL the pries, and it’s no surprise to see this on the Booker longlist.  I’ve not read it, but I’ve heard good things, and it’s a book that I do want to read.


So there you have – the 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist.  What do you think?  Are there any novels on here that you have read, or that you want to read?

Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds

close to me

Earlier this year, I was thrilled to win a giveaway from Amanda Reynolds on Twitter for a proof copy of her novel, Close to Me, plus a themed Book Buddle.  It’s been sat on my TBR for far too long, but I’ve read it, and, of course, I now wish that I had done so earlier, as I really enjoyed it.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.

But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

Close to Me alternates between the present day with chapters x days after the fall, and snapshots from the past year as she starts to remember little snippets that she had forgotten as a result of the fall.  I find books that play with memory intriguing, and Close to Me is no exception.  Jo’s gut feel is that there is something that’s not quite right – she just doesn’t know what, and I couldn’t help but wonder where this feeling came from and what was behind it.  Was Jo in danger, or was it all in her mind, making up demons where there were none?

Unreliable narrators are common, but I liked that Jo is unreliable through no fault of her own.  Her memory loss, and the fact that those around her deliberately withhold information from her, mean that she has to try and piece things together based upon the little snippets of memory that do come back to her as well as the drip feed of information from her husband, Rob, and her family.  And it’s very easy to put two and two together to get five in such a situation.

Jo is understandably frustrated throughout, and I thought that this came across well.  Her frustration stems from both not being able to remember people or events, but also at the coddling approach Rob takes following the accident.  And his argument is a good one – he doesn’t want her stressed by the minutiae of life while she’s recovering.  That said, I did think that there were things that were kept from her for no good reason whatsoever, and this did make the story a little frustrating at times, although this was only a minor niggle, and, of course, purely my opinion.

I read Close to Me over the course of a single, albeit extremely lazy, Sunday.  There are some interesting twists in the story, and the slow process of Jo regaining her memory was cleverly done, making me question the things that I thought I’d pieced together as new information came to light.

Close to Me is published in paperback today (27 July) by Wildfire Books, and is also available as an eBook.  Many thanks to Amanda for this lovely prize.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This Week in Books – 26-07-17

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

I recently finished reading Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds, which I really enjoyed – my review will be up soon!

close to me

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.

But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.


My current read is The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 to 2047 by Lionel Shriver.  I’ve got to admit that I’m struggling a little with this one, and I may not finish it – we’ll see how it goes!

the mandibles

It is 2029.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Yet America’s soaring national debt has grown so enormous that it can never be repaid. Under siege from an upstart international currency, the dollar is in meltdown. A bloodless world war will wipe out the savings of millions of American families.

Their inheritance turned to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also ― as the effects of the downturn start to hit ― the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister Florence is forced to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household. As their father Carter fumes at having to care for his demented stepmother now that a nursing home is too expensive, his sister Nollie, an expat author, returns from abroad at 73 to a country that’s unrecognizable.

Perhaps only Florence’s oddball teenage son Willing, an economics autodidact, can save this formerly august American family from the streets.

This is not science fiction. This is a frightening, fascinating, scabrously funny glimpse into the decline that may await the United States all too soon, from the pen of perhaps the most consistently perceptive and topical author of our times.


My next read will be My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott.

my mothers shadow

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever.


And that’s my week in books!  What are you reading this week?  Let me know in the comments!