Talking About ‘Three Things About Elsie’ with Bibliobeth!

Three Things About Elsie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep

Synopsis:

There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

CHRISSI: We both read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by the same author. How do you think this book compared?

BETH: I really enjoyed The Trouble With Goats and Sheep but for some reason, it wasn’t a five star read for me like I know it was for so many other readers. I wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by Three Things About Elsie at all. I knew I would probably enjoy it as I thought with her first novel, Joanna Cannon had a very engaging writing style and wrote fantastic characters but I still wasn’t prepared for how much I would end up enjoying this. It was an emotional. poignant and stellar piece of fiction that had a huge impact on me.

BETH: Without spoilers, how fitting did you think the title of this book was?

CHRISSI: I thought it was a very fitting title to the story. Throughout the story, we know two things about Elsie and there’s something else about her too…which I can’t spoil. I think the title was a good match and there was lots of reference to it within the story which was a lovely touch.

CHRISSI: What feelings did this book evoke for you?

BETH: SO many feelings. In her first book, Joanna Cannon chose to focus on two young girls as protagonists, with Elsie she has gone to the other end of the spectrum and we see the lives of Florence, Elsie, Jack and many others in a retirement home. I loved the relationship between Florence and Elsie in particular but also liked that this novel had a hint of a mystery about it regarding the re-emergence of a character from their past and why it evokes such feelings of fear in Florence as a result. This novel also touches on memory loss and dementia which was quite hard to read about and heart-breaking in points but ultimately, I think the author handled it very sensitively and it was an intensely moving read for me.

BETH: Did Florence’s failing memory change your understanding of events at Cherry Tree? Does it make her a less reliable narrator?

CHRISSI: I do think that Florence’s failing memory did make her a less reliable narrator for sure. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to herself, remembering things wrong or hiding secrets that she wanted to keep locked away. The story really did unravel slowly, with a very mysterious element, it took me a while to understand what was going on.

CHRISSI: Did you feel engaged with the story all the way through?

BETH: I honestly did. I adored the way in which we got little throwbacks to Flo and Elsie’s past as the mystery of the new resident at the retirement home continues to unravel but I think my favourite parts about this novel were the little pearls of wisdom that Joanna Cannon throws in, some of which really spoke to me on a personal level and I even tweeted about, I felt so strongly at the time! For example: “Sometimes you go through an experience in life that slices into the very bones of who you are, and two different versions of yourself will always sit either side of it like bookends.”

BETH: What do you think makes Florence ultimately realise that she HAS lived an extraordinary life, in the end?

CHRISSI: I think when Florence is lying reminiscing about what she does remember of her life, her memories with Elsie make her realise that her life has been quite remarkable. She is forced to think of secrets that she’s kept hidden. It is her interactions with Elsie that makes her think about her life and all of the events that have happened to her.

CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite character? If so, who?

BETH: I loved all the characters to be honest, even the ones who were meant to have a more malevolent side to them! Obviously, I had a soft spot for our leading lady Florence and often wanted to be there having a chat, a cup of tea and some Battenberg cake with her but I also really enjoyed the character of Jack who is so supportive to Flo that it made my heart burst a little bit. Handy Simon is also a fabulous character and I found myself really rooting for him to find happiness all the way through the novel.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. Personally, I don’t think I gel with this author’s writing style. It’s nothing against Joanna Cannon’s writing. I can see and appreciate that she’s a talented writer. It just doesn’t work for me. I found this book to be a little drawn out and I lost interest in it. Don’t get me wrong, there were some lovely moments within this story and some very quotable moments. I was extremely busy when I was reading it (so may not have invested as much in it as I wanted to) and I enjoy a faster paced story. I feel really bad because I know so many people love this book. However, we can’t love them all and the blogosphere would be very boring if we all agreed.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!

CHRISSI: Yes!

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4)

The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4)

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books UK

Synopsis:

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?

Thoughts:

When I requested this book, I requested it purely on the cover and tag line alone. I wasn’t aware that it was part of a series. Yet I’d heard it didn’t matter so on I went with reading it. It did take me a while to read but that was just because I was super busy. When I did pick it up, I was completely engaged with the story.

This story is all about the chase of a serial killer who seems to be dating his victims before he brutally kills them. It also involves the story of troubled Connor who has moved to Exeter from the US to escape the terrible things that he has done. Connor immediately fits in with the cool crowd and ‘easy’ girls. The Promise follows those two story lines that become very intense.

I don’t know the characters as well as I may have done had I read the books prior to this. However, I don’t think this really affected my enjoyment of the story. The Promise was much more darker than I had expected. I do enjoy dark thrillers though. I’m not sure what that says about me. I thought Katerina Diamond had created a very intriguing story line. I do love unpicking a mystery. I enjoy a story that is both character driven and action packed and The Promise has this in abundance.

The reason why I didn’t rate this book any higher is that I thought it was a little long. I think if it had been condensed slightly, it would have had a much faster pace.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

An enjoyable read. Katerina Diamond is a great writer!

Talking About ‘You Me Everything’ With Bibliobeth!

You Me Everything

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend—and William’s father—Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Lush gardens, a gorgeous pool, delectable French food, and a seemingly never-ending wine list—what’s not to like? Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam fall in love with his own son.

But Adam has other ideas, and another girlfriend—and he doesn’t seem inclined to change the habits of a lifetime just because Jess and William have appeared on the scene. Jess isn’t surprised, but William—who has quickly come to idolize his father—wants nothing more than to spend time with him. But Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down—because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody—especially William—must discover.

CHRISSI: What do you think of this book’s title? Does it fit or would you call it something else?

BETH: Ooh, tough question. I have to admit, the title You Me Everything is rather generic but I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing. It could encompass a number of different relationships that Jess has in the book – for example with her parents or more specifically her mother, or the one she has with her son OR the one she has with the father of her son, Adam. Maybe the title is actually about about all three?! In that way, it’s quite a good title I think because it doesn’t give anything away about how the story or any of these relationships could be portrayed in the novel.

BETH: Were you initially pulled into this story by the prologue or did it take you a bit longer to become invested?

CHRISSI: I was definitely invested from the very beginning. I feel like it was some sort of wizardry or something because I don’t usually get invested so quickly. I was desperate to find out more about Jessica. I even wanted to know more about Adam although I wasn’t so keen on him as character. I wanted to know if my first impressions of him were correct. I won’t say if they were or not though!

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, what did you think of Jessica and Adam’s relationship?

BETH: This is going to be so hard to talk about without spoilers but I’ll do my best. Adam is a very strange, not necessarily likeable character, particularly when we first meet him and as a result, I didn’t like him at all, especially in the opening chapter when Jess is giving birth to their son, William. There were times when I didn’t buy into their past, present or future situation at all and I found myself getting quite frustrated with it, I have to admit. Then the author throws in a twist that I wasn’t quite expecting and I found myself feeling slightly differently – I won’t say if it’s for better or for worse!

BETH: What did you think of the relationship between Jess and her son William?

CHRISSI: I feel like overall Jess wanted the best for her son. Jess still feels hurt from the way her relationship ended with William’s father, but she has reason to want William and his father to be close. I liked how she swallowed her pride to ensure they had a relationship. I feel like Jess is such a strong character. Although she did have her family supporting her through bringing up William, she was a single parent. William is incredibly well-adjusted and perhaps wiser than Jess gives him credit for. I think their relationship was utterly believable and I loved how much they clearly cared for one another.

CHRISSI: Did you think the relationships within this story were realistic?

BETH: I think I might have touched on that in my previous answer regarding Jess and Adam, the latter of which I was especially suspicious of throughout the narrative. As for the other relationships, I did find them quite realistic, particularly Jess’s relationship with her mum which at times, broke my heart (if you’ve read this already, you’ll know what I’m referring to!) I also really enjoyed Jess’s relationship with her son William whom she raised practically on her own as a single mother and in turn, found Williams’s relationship with his father, Adam difficult to stomach for perhaps obvious reasons.

BETH: Jess has to make some very tough decisions in this novel. Without spoilers, do you think she always did the right thing or would you have acted differently?

CHRISSI: Ooh yes, Jess certainly has tough decisions to make. It’s hard to discuss without spoilers but I shall do my best. I feel like Jess was very much guided by what her parents wanted her to do with regards to William’s relationship with his father. I could understand why she wanted to stay at home and think I would have that struggle as well. I think I would want to be more truthful with people around me, but I can totally see why she kept some things secret. I’m sitting on the fence with this answer really, but I can see why Jess made the choices that she did. She’s a strong, inspirational character who keeps going despite the hardships she’s facing.

CHRISSI: This book has been compared to Me Before You. Do you see the similarities and do you feel like this is a fair comparison?

BETH: It’s even got a similar title – er…kind of. I can see the similarities i.e. female protagonist, difficult romantic relationship and health issues BUT I would hate to compare it to one of my all time favourite reads as I don’t think it’s fair to compare a story that can stand on its own perfectly well and has major differences which make it very UNLIKE Me Before You. The only way I can compare it is to say that I really liked the female lead, appreciated the moments of joy and heart-break and was touched by a fair few passages in the narrative.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I thought Catherine Isaac had a very engaging writing style. I really liked how her characters were developed. I loved how this story was an emotional read too. It certainly had depth.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

I Let Him Go- From The Mother Of James Bulger

I Let Him Go: From the mother of James Bulger

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

On 12th February 1993, Denise Fergus’ life changed forever. As she was running errands at New Strand Shopping Centre, she let go of her two-year-old son’s hand for a few seconds to take out her purse. Denise never saw her son again.

For the first time since that moment 25 years ago, Denise tells her extraordinary story in this heart-wrenching book, an unflinching account of that terrible day. What if she had never taken James shopping? What if she had turned right coming out of the butcher’s, instead of left? Denise’s initial hope after seeing her son on CCTV with other children quickly turned to devastation when, two days later, James’ body was found.

His death reverberated around the world and his killers became the youngest ever convicted murderers in UK legal history. Four minutes is all it took for them to lead James away from his mother to his death. Denise took up a tortuous legal battle for James, and it was her astonishing strength and love for her son that ultimately helped to change the way the law treats victims of crime.

This is a mother’s tale of finding a way through the despair to remember the happiness and wonderful memories that James brought his family. Above all, Denise doesn’t want her son to be remembered as a murdered child, and with this beautifully written book, she does just that.

Thoughts:

This was an incredibly tough book to read. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book on such a sad subject, but I decided to give it go after reading some wonderful reviews. I Let Him Go is all about how Denise and her family coped after the brutal murder of her son, James Bulger. I’m not a mother, but this book completely broke my heart. I can’t even imagine the pain Denise and her family went through. It’s terrifying. It seriously is one of the most horrific crimes against a child in U.K history.

As you read Denise’s thoughts you realise that she doesn’t ever try to analyse the whys of the terrible crime. She never asks herself why the killers did what they did. Instead she focuses on what James was like in the short time he was in her life. She discusses her family and how they dealt with the terrible tragedy. I was blown away by her strength especially through her dealings with the legal system.

I haven’t read much about Denise before this book, but as I understand it a lot of false claims have been made about her. I liked reading her point of view on what happened. After all, Denise was there when James was taken away. I don’t think she’ll ever forgive herself for letting go of his hand but I love how she’s determined to keep his memory alive. The James she knew and loved. She didn’t concern herself with details about his murder.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!- Obviously, this a tough read with very sad subject matter. It may not be for everyone.

A heart-breaking read!

Tender

Tender

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?

Thoughts:

Aw. This book is heart-breaking but so very necessary. I have enjoyed reading Eve Ainsworth’s books because they tend to be about tough subjects written in a raw and real way. I think it’s so important that young adults have material like this out there to read. Her books do often come with a warning that it has sensitive content within the story- so if you feel like it might trigger you then I don’t necessarily recommend reading them. However, if you can manage to read the tough content then I think you’re in for quite the read. Eve Ainsworth clearly understands teenagers/young adults and their emotions. With every book, I think she nails the emotions needed.

Tender centres around two young carers, Marty and Daisy. Marty’s mum is suffering with her mental health after her husband died. Daisy is living with parents who are falling to pieces due to her brother’s life-threatening, incurable disease. Heart-break. The story follows Marty and Daisy’s journey as they find each other and learn about each other’s lives.

I absolutely loved Marty and Daisy. It was tough to read about them hiding their feelings as they didn’t want to burden their family. I loved it when they found one another and were able to open up and feel better through talking to each other. I have known a few young carers throughout my teaching career so far and quite often they just need to know that someone cares about them.

I loved that this book wasn’t centred around romance. Sure, there’s feelings there, but it’s not the focus of the story. The focus of the story is to think about the now, because we never know what is around the corner. I think that’s such an important message to send out. Eve Ainsworth does it with ease and left me feeling incredibly reflective.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a very touching read. It explores mental health in a sensitive but raw and real way.

Blog Tour- Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)

Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)

How did I get it?:
Sent to me by the publisher for the blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Show Stopper

Synopsis:

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini’s circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW STOPPER. But Ben’s mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he’d seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk
beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus’ new star attraction…
 

Thoughts:

I was contacted to see whether I’d like to review this book by Scholastic. At the time, I didn’t realise it was a series, so when I received the book and realised that, I purchased a copy of the first book and read it, so that I knew what was going on. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, so I’m thrilled that I got the chance to read Show Stealer. I’m very into circus reads at the moment and this one completely captivated me. If you do want to read this book, I’d highly recommend reading Show Stopper first as it will really enhance your reading experience.

In Show Stealer, we continue Hoshiko and Ben’s journey as they’re on the run after burning down Sabatini’s circus to the ground. Hoshiko and Ben are not safe, Ben’s highly influential (and evil) mother is determined to get her son back. The police are also searching for them. It’s such a fast-paced read as the runaways are finally caught up with. It’s super hard to review this book without spoiling the story. Just know that it’s so captivating and action-packed.

I love how the chapters alternate between our main characters. It picks up so well, it didn’t feel like I had week gaps between reading these books. I absolutely adore Hoshiko and Ben. I’ve loved watching them grow throughout the two books. However, they are not the only stars of the show. There are many wonderful secondary characters, like Greta and Ezekiel, who I loved! The villains in this story are simply sublime.

I really enjoy Hayley Barker’s writing. It’s so easy to become engaged and enthused by the story. I’m excited to see where she goes next. In Show Stealer, Hayley has created a story with a strong and important message. It’s about society and how it (still) can be divided between different people/groups. It’s a message about coming together and being united rather than divided. It’s about respecting differences and learning to live with those different to you. What a message that is!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

The Liar’s Room

The Liar's Room: The addictive new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of THE HOUSE

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Books UK

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The House

Synopsis:

ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong. 
She doesn’t know him. 
BUT HE KNOWS HER. 
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…

Thoughts:

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Liar’s Room after really enjoying Simon Lelic’s book The House. I actually think this book was a much stronger read than The House. It was clever, manipulative and so easy to read. I raced through the book eager to find out what was going on. This book has definitely made me quite the fan of Simon Lelic’s writing!

The Liar’s Room has so much going on within its pages. It centres around Susanna and her new client Adam. Susanna has a secret that goes back so many years. She has reinvented herself, not realising that her new client knows more about her than he initially lets on. Adam talks about wanting to hurt a girl. Susanna soon realises that the girl is her daughter, Emily. Susanna is determined to protect her daughter. Adam takes Susanna on a trip down memory lane and she finds out that she is closer to him than she had ever expected to be!

This is one of those books that is SO hard to review without spoiling it, so apologies for my vagueness. I will say that this book has some utterly fascinating characters. I was so eager to find out the truth between lies. I had moments of not really trusting many of the characters and I love that. I adore an unreliable narrator/characters. I thought this book had them in abundance.

With a seemingly simple plot, a counsellor and a client, Simon Lelic really wove a tangled web. The story was incredibly intense. I loved how the characters were trying to get the upper hand at points. It really was quite the battle. I also really appreciated how there were journal entries within the story from Emily. I thought this was a clever touch and really added to the story.

I am excited to read more from Simon Lelic in the future. He has a compelling writing style and his books keep me guessing.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful thriller! It definitely didn’t go where I expected!