#Blogtour Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld @csittenfeld @DoubledayUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Rodham

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld Doubleday Books July 7th 2020

Book Synopsis

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb.

Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No.

How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

My Review

Who was, is Hilary Clinton, or should that be Hilary Rodham. There is the public face, the one we see on the news, on social media, but how did she get to where she is today, a figure head in American politics, a woman who got so close to being the first woman President.

Now we know all about her marriage to Bill Clinton, but what if she hadn’t married him, what would our opinion of her and indeed her life have been like? Sittenfeld took this as her starting point and worked her way backwards to a Hilary still at University, a student in the midst of the feminist movement as they pushed themselves further up the career ladder.

Sittenfeld, gave us the impression that Hilary was one of a kind, resolutely focused, awkward in her relationships with the opposite sex, acutely aware her looks would not bag her the handsome man so many craved. Yet it was something she felt she did want, her brusque nature a barrier, but more importantly her intelligence seemed to scare them, men unused to a woman who could debate and compete on a level playing field.

It was her happiness in her relationship with the young Bill Clinton that delighted you, at last a man who accepted her on her own terms, in fact relished her intelligence and found her hugely attractive. Would she follow him as he chased his dream of becoming Senator of Arkansas and ultimately President?

Sittenfeld made you feel the electricity that existed between them, as you wondered if Hilary could settle for life as the other half, if love did indeed outweigh everything else. But that was what so great about Sittenfeld’s Hilary, she was a woman who resisted the urge to settle just for love, she wanted more, unwilling to accept Bill’s sexual failings, unwilling to be second best.

It made me cheer silently and that was indeed when the novel took a truly interesting turn. Hilary on her own, her drive to succeed took over and Sittenfeld brilliantly showcased an American political world that was mired in intrigue, in deals with surprising and recognisable characters. It made my mind whirl as I contemplated the what if’s, the realisation that it was all one game, of who held the power of information, who held their nerve, was patient as they bided their time, waited for that one perfect moment.

I loved Sittenfeld’s version of Bill Clinton, charismatic, ultimately a sexual sleeze machine, selfish, superficial, a real sense of his own importance. He wasn’t someone I liked, his attitudes towards women repugnant, almost as if Sittenfeld had lifted the lid on the real Bill Clinton the one that many chose to ignore instead hoodwinked by his charm and affable nature.

Other well known characters made a guest appearance, their actions and relationship with Hilary a little surprising but a brilliant twist on reality!

There was so much to Rodham, so much to admire in Sittenfelds narrative, themes and characters. The ultimate question she left me with, was has the real Hilary Rodham read it and what did she think about herself as she appeared in Sittenfelds world.

I would like to Doubleday for a copy of Rodham to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Curtis Sittenfeld pulls no punches in her scathing and hilarious indictments of the American middle classes. Her Sunday Times bestselling novel American Wife was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep. Her other books include The Man of My Dreams, Sisterland, Eligible, the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It and her latest novel Rodham. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Oprah Magazine and the New York Times magazine. Sittenfeld is also the guest editor for the 2020 Best American Short Stories anthology. She lives with her family in the American Mid-West. Follow her on Twitter @CSittenfeld

#Blogtour Sea Wife by Amity Gage #AmityGage @fleetreads @GraceEVincent #SeaWife

Sea Wife
Sea Wife by Amity Gage Fleet April 28th 2020

Book Synopisis

From the highly acclaimed author of Schroder, a smart, sophisticated literary page turner about a young family who escape suburbia for a year-long sailing trip that upends all of their lives

Juliet is failing to juggle motherhood and her anemic dissertation when her husband, Michael, informs her that he wants to leave his job and buy a sailboat. The couple are novice sailors, but Michael persuades Juliet to say yes. With their two kids – Sybil, age seven, and George, age two, Juliet and Michael set off for Panama, where their forty-four-foot sailboat awaits them – a boat that Michael has christened the Juliet.

The initial result is transformative: their marriage is given a gust of energy, and even the children are affected by the beauty and wonderful vertigo of travel. The sea challenges them all – and most of all, Juliet, who suffers from postpartum depression.

Sea Wife is told in gripping dual perspectives: Juliet’s first-person narration, after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the dire, life-changing events that unfolded at sea; and Michael’s captain’s log – that provides a riveting, slow-motion account of those same inexorable events.

Exuberant, harrowing, witty, and exquisitely written, Sea Wife is impossible to put down.

My Review

I was absolutely mesmerised by Sea Wife, it had that special something in a novel that drew you in not only to the story but more importantly the characters.

Gaige had that wonderful ability to truly understand her characters, as she dug deeper and deeper into their inner thoughts and feelings.

I truly felt I knew Juliet as her musings, analysis tumbled out on to the page as she looked back on their sailing adventure one she was reluctant to take .

The dual narrative of Juliet interspersed with husband Michael’s captain’s log were utterly revealing as it laid bare all of their innermost thoughts. They told of their successes, their failures, Juliet tormented by something that lay dormant, only unveiled in the latter parts of the novel. You felt empathy as she struggled with depression, of not being a good enough mother and wife, of having no love left for Michael.

Michael was the caged animal, fed up with his life, the hamster wheel that was a 9 to 5 job and the drudgery of family life. You watched as he told of his need for escape, as it became an obsession, as he forced his wife and children on their sailing adventure.

Gaige was unflinching in her narrative of their marriage, like they were treading water, balanced on the edge, ready to plunge into the depths of disrepair.

The boat trip was that opportunity to test, to see if they could salvage their marriage, if indeed they still loved each other.

I loved Gaige’s narrative as she described their voyage, the vastness of the ocean that represented the chasm between Juliet and Michael, the loneliness they both felt.

The problems they encountered tested their ability to communicate, to tolerate each other it was like watching a tug of war as the balance tipped back and forth. You couldn’t getaway from the beauty of what lay around them, the coastal landscape, the people they met as they slowly worked through their emotions. It brought them joy and wonder, before Gaige hit them with the ultimate test. She heightened their emotions, as the novel became tense, almost like a thriller, the reader swept along wondering where the author would take them.

You may get the impression that Sea Wife was quite gloomy, depressing and in many aspects it was, but Gaige brilliantly counterbalanced those feelings with hope, with new exciting experiences, of reconciliation and recovery. It was a wonderful blend of human endeavour thrown onto the mercy of a challenging environment that fascinated and completed and in my opinion just wonderful.

I would like to thank Fleet for a copy of Sea Wife to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author


AMITY GAIGE is the author of four novels, O My Darling, The Folded World, Schroder, and the forthcoming Sea Wife (Knopf, April 2020).

Amity is the winner of a Fulbright Fellowship, and fellowships at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies. In 2016, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction. Her previous novel Schroder has been translated into eighteen languages, and was shortlisted for The Folio Prize in the UK in 2014 and for L’Express Reader’s Prize in France. Schroder was named one of Best Books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review, The Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Kirkus, Cosmopolitan, and Publisher’s Weekly, among many others.

The longtime Visiting Writer at Amherst College, she now teaches creative writing at Yale. Her short stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Die Welt, Harper’s Bazaar, The Yale Review, Slate.com, One Story, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She has appeared at numerous conferences, festivals, and on radio shows such as NPR.

She currently lives with her family in West Hartford, Connecticut. She had to learn to sail in order to write Sea Wife. She learned that she is not a gifted sailor, so she will stick to writing about it.

#Blogtour Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BloodRedCity

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds Orenda Books June 11th 2020

Book Synopsis

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

My Review

The only way I could describe Blood Red City was tense. The whole time I was reading it felt like I was sat on the edge of my seat, my whole body on alert, my brain going at a hundred miles an hour as I watched Lydia and Michael fight against each other, those out to get them and their efforts to unveil the truth.

It wasn’t an easy truth to uncover, Reynolds plot stuck firmly in the shady world of money laundering, and property development. The links between eastern bloc countries of the Ukraine, Russia and the west were strong, hints of ‘establishment’ involvement upping the stakes and the danger for Lydia and Stringer.

At its heart lay the city of London, the murky darkness of the underground, a perfect place for what you thought was the perfect murder. The myriad streets, their twisty turns perfect for following individuals, the high rise apartment blocks and the gated houses that hid their wealthy seemingly untouchable owners.

Thrown onto the mercies of the city Reynolds gave us two awesome characters. Lydia, journalist, sidelined to the showbiz desk, working to survive, hopeful of that one good break that would send her back to the serious stuff. She was intelligent, determined, didn’t suffer fools and was never afraid to put herself in danger.

Stringer, the fixer, the corporate information gatherer appeared tough, but hid a vulnerable side, hints of a past sorrow that drove him into danger, kept him occupied, little room for personal thought. It made me like him, admire him, especially as Reynolds used his intelligence, gut instinct rather than violence to achieve his outcomes.

I loved the dual aspect of the novels structure, Lydia and Stringer chasing the same information and answers. You knew they would eventually come together, but never when, and when they did their distrust of each other pushed and pulled them apart.

As Reynolds peeled back the layers of financial shenanigans, as the stakes for the players rose higher and higher so he upped the danger, and the drama. Double crossing and the odd surprise crept in and Reynolds made you realise what a great team Lydia and Stringer were. They complimented each other brilliantly, treated each other as equals, didn’t mould to the normal stereotype of brawn and beauty.

The ending was ambiguous, you could see potential for more, in fact you definitely wanted more, felt there was unfinished business.

My question is Mr Rod Reynolds, will we get more, will Lydia and Stringer be back to take us on another tension filled, edge of the seat journey???

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Blood Red City to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

Twitter: @Rod_WR email: rodreynoldsauthor@gmail.com

#Blogtour You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster @SaraJFoster @Legend_Press #YouDon’tKnowMe

You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster Legend Press May 18th 2020

Book Synopsis

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished. Noah Carruso has never forgotten her: she was his first crush; his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend. 
Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared, under a darkening cloud of suspicion. Now he’s coming home for the inquest into Lizzie’s death, intent on telling his side of the story for the first time.
As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce while on holiday in Thailand. They fall in love fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken, for she carries a terrible secret of her own. 
He’s guarding a dark secret, but so is she.

My Review

I’ve never really believed in love at first sight but for some the moment you see that one person it’s like a thunder bolt, the world stops and you have to be with them. Noah and Alice were those people, destined to meet, fall in love as they travelled in Thailand. Their connection was electric, as they gave into the all consuming passion that engulfed them, but how much did they really know about each, what were they hiding or to afraid to reveal?

Foster gave them pasts that were about to catch up with them, that you could see had a huge psychological impact, that threatened what they had begun. She gave us insightful glimpses of their psyche, of families torn apart, rifts that would be hard to bridge, responsibilities that trapped them.

Alice, seemed the stronger of the two, Noah vulnerable on the edge, their mutual support of each other key to their survival. Back in Australia, Foster threw them back into events and circumstances that put them on a rollercoaster of emotions, as tension mounted and Foster slowly revealed their stories. There were twists and turns, as you wondered what really did happen, before the ultimate surprise, a betrayal that you never saw, that shocked not only the reader but the characters.

It was one of those moments that you love in novels, a moment where you have to take a breath, think back and look for the clues that you never saw. You watch the characters as they reel from the revelations, their myriad of coping mechanisms, and wonder if they will recover. In particular you wondered what lay ahead for Noah and Alice, would love as they say conquer all or would it force them apart?

Having never read Sara Foster I was impressed and look forward to discovering more.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of Do You Know Me to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sara Foster crop.jpg

Sara Foster is the bestselling author of five psychological suspense novels. Bristish author Sara  now lives in Western Australia with her husband and two young daughters, and is a doctoral candidate at Curtin University.

Twitter: @SaraJFoster

#Review Biloxi by Mary Miller #MaryMiller @wwnortonUK @emcaryelwes #Biloxi

9781631497841 198
Biloxi by Mary Miller W.W. Norton UK July 3rd 2020

Book Synopsis

Mary Miller seizes the mantle of southern US literature with Biloxi, a tender, gritty tale of middle age and the unexpected turns a life can take.
Building on her critically acclaimed novel The Last Days of California and her biting collection Always Happy Hour, Miller transports readers to this delightfully wry, unapologetic corner of the south—Biloxi, Mississippi, home to sixty-three-year-old Louis McDonald, Jr.
Louis has been forlorn since his wife of thirty-seven years left him, his father passed away and he impulsively retired from his job in anticipation of an inheritance that may not come. These days he watches reality television and tries to avoid his ex-wife and daughter, benefiting from the charity of his former brother-in-law, Frank, who religiously brings over his Chili’s leftovers and always stays for a beer.

Yet the past is no predictor of Louis’s future. On a routine trip to Walgreens to pick up his diabetes medication, he stops at a sign advertising free dogs and meets Harry Davidson, a man who claims to have more than a dozen canines on offer, but offers only one: an overweight mixed breed named Layla. Without any rational explanation, Louis feels compelled to take the dog home, and the two become inseparable. Louis, more than anyone, is dumbfounded to find himself in love—bursting into song with improvised jingles, exploring new locales and re-evaluating what he once considered the fixed horizons of his life. With her “sociologist’s eye for the mundane and revealing” (Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books), Miller populates the Gulf Coast with Ann Beattie-like characters. A strangely heartwarming tale of loneliness, masculinity, and the limitations of each, Biloxi confirms Miller’s position as one of our most gifted and perceptive writers.

My Review

At first glance Biloxi seemed like a straightforward story of one man and a rescued dog. It wasn’t until Miller peeled away the layers that you realised it was anything but simple.

Louis was the main man, retired, divorced and alone. Did he like being alone or was the aloneness forced upon him? As the reader, you had to say it was a mixture of circumstance and choice, Louis was somehow adrift, no structure to his day, no idea who to be and where to go as a newly single man.

I felt a smidgeon sorry for him, but a large part of me wanted to shake him out of his reverie, make him take care of himself, eat properly and exercise.

The acquisition of Layla, the free dog from a house he just happened to pass, acted like a door left slightly ajar, as Miller used Layla to gently push or squeeze Louis through.

You could see small chunks of light appear in his mind as he saw the possibilities of a new life on the horizon. Yet things are never that simple, and Miller excelled at the anguish and angst she put him through.

The irreverent house guest with her feminine wiles, the chance meeting of a woman in a bar gave Louis the opportunity to assess the role of the women who had been in his life, namely his wife. Did he want another relationship, were they important to his happiness, his life?

Miller examined the relationship with his father, the impending inheritance, the freedom it promised, or alternatively the chain around his neck.

Yet it was his interaction with Layla, that well and truly opened him up. She got him up in the morning, made him walk the streets, the city of Biloxi, gave him responsibility and maybe that will to stay alive, to make changes that you hoped would make him happier.

Millers prose was careful and considered as she probed Louis’s mindset, as she widened his horizons. The exploration of loneliness, of loss was touching and tender, no cliches, none of the usual stereotypical nuances so beloved by many authors. She gave Louis and us hope, a world of possibilities and the wonderful after effects of a superb novel.

I would like to thank W W Norton for a copy of Biloxi to read and to Emily Cary-Elwes for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to review.

About the author

MARY MILLER is the author of three previous books, including the story collection Always Happy Hour and the novel The Last Days of California. She is a former James A. Michener Fellow and John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

#Blogblitz The First Lie by AJ Park @AJParkauthor @orion_crime #TheFirstLie

The First Lie by AJ Park Orion June 25th 2020

Happy Publication Day

“A. J. Park is a master of suspense who knows how to keep readers hovering tensely over the edges of their seats.” 
Sophie Hannah


“This is a real page-turner. I finished it in one go!”
Martina Cole

A husband and wife cover up a murder. But the lie eats away at the fabric of their relationship and things unravel till they can’t trust anyone – even each other.

“A great thriller that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.”
Luca Veste

A freak accident. An impossible choice. But what was the first lie?

When Paul Reeve comes home to find his wife in the bathroom, bloodied and shaking, his survival instinct kicks in.

Alice never meant to kill the intruder. She was at home, alone, and terrified. She doesn’t deserve to be blamed for it. Covering up the murder is their only option.

But the crime eats away at the couple and soon they can’t trust anyone – even one another…

But there is much more at stake than anyone realises – and many more people on their trail than they can possibly evade…

“Fast-moving, gripping, the ground shifting perpetually beneath your feet as you read… I read it in one sitting.”
Alex Marwood

Available as a paperback, ebook and audio book.


Waterstones Paperback: http://tidd.ly/553cdf07

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KNl4rt

Pseudonym for author Karl Vadaszffy.

After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, AJ Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools in England

#Blogtour The Miseducation Of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor @matson_taylor_ @simonschusterUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheMiseducationOfEvieEpworth

The Miseducation Of Evie Epworth ny Matson Taylor Scribner July 23rd 2020

Book Synopsis

Cold Comfort Farm meets Adrian Mole in the funniest debut novel of the year.
Yorkshire, the summer of 1962. Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Girl Guides, cows, milk deliveries, lost mothers and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds).

Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon to
be stepmother, a manipulative and money grubbing schemer who is
lining Evie up for a life of shampoo and-set drudgery at the local salon.
Luckily, Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her bereaved father,
Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save their beloved farmhouse from being sold off. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly she is meant to be.

My Review

What a way to meet Evie Epworth as she drove her father’s MG with milk bottles clattering away on the passenger seat before disaster struck in the most bizarre and original manner. It was the start of a startlingly brilliant novel that had so many laugh out loud moments I lost count.

Evie, was just superb, the young Yorkshire teenager, stuck in the middle of her Father and new girlfriend, Christine, as she attempted to navigate between finding her own path in life and expunging money grabber Christine from their home.

I loved her naivety, her hankering for something more than the hairdressing job Christine acquired for her, and her unending loyalty to those around her. Her friendship with, neighbour Mrs Scott-Pym, was wonderfully tender and sweet, the Granny or mother figure she never had, their plotting and conspiring to rid Evie of Christine came with hilarious results, with just a tinge of seriousness underneath. The seriousness was a young girl with no direction, no role model to look upto, who took a determined stand to fight, with just a little help, to reclaim her father and the life she was destined to lead. I admired how Matson was able to delve into her mind, to write with such assurance from a female point of view,.

Christine, was the nightmare you never seemed to be rid of and Matson didn’t hold back on his descriptions of her myriad of fluffy pink and truly awful outfits that conjured up some fabulously wonderful images. Her unerring desire for money and material possessions were definitely not her most endearing features and I think you would have had to have dug pretty deep to find any. She was the real comedy turn of the novel, as you cringed with embarrassment at her and her mother’s hilarious antics.

What was so wonderful about Matson’s narrative was his ability to capture the essence of the 1960’s, of a world on the brink of change. He caught the fashion, the sounds, the Beatles, the evolving attitudes of society, as women emerged from their kitchens’s, took up careers and became more independent.

Matson didn’t forget about the past, the story of Evie’s dead mother interspersed within the body of the novel, that gave us the background we needed to understand her Father and made you hope all the more for a happy ending.

The ending when it came was gloriously fitting, and I have to admit to being very sad to leave Evie Epworth. I would love to see where her next chapter will take her and what mad hilarious situations and characters she would meet next. A sequel would be just fantastic please Mr Matson!

A brilliant, funny, debut.

I would like to thank Scribner for a copy of The Miseducation of Miss Evie Epworth to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire but now lives in London. He is a
design historian and academic writing tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the RCA. He has also worked on Camden Market,
appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers.

#Blogtour The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith @evecsmith @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheWaitingRoom

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith Orenda Books July 9th 2020

Book Synopsis

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

My Review

Wow, if this book didn’t just hit the publishing world at the right time! It was scary, topical and I wondered if Smith had psychic powers and knew what was about to hit us in 2020.

The similarities between the human resistance to antibiotics, the rise of TB and the world of COVID-19 were astonishing as Smith described a future world of hand washing, sanitising and face masks. Was it really a future world or, as the use of antibiotics is seen as the cure all for so many infections the direction we could be heading?

Smith’s knowledge and understanding of the science was exemplary, she didn’t blind us with it, instead wove it skilfully into the main narrative, as the characters learnt to live with their pasts and their present.

Indomitable scientist Mary Sommers was the past, at the top of her profession, brilliantly clever yet just like the rest of us, soft and vulnerable underneath. It was that vulnerability, the choices she made that had such huge ramifications not only for herself but for others.

Our present or future was Kate, wife, mother and nurse, the kind of nurse you didn’t want to see as Smith described her job. It was a job that saw her ease the way of her patients into the next world, the over 70’s no longer deemed treatable, but disposable, if only to save the younger generation. It was chilling, unsettling and were we not living through a pandemic something you would have seen as pure fiction.

It was Kate’s search for her birth mother that opened up lies, intrigue and the mighty power of pharmaceutical companies. Smith’s plot was utterly compelling, to the point I couldn’t put the book down. I’m not sure I can find the words to describe quite how it made me feel, except that it felt surreal but real all at the same time.

The time before the antibiotic crisis and Mary’s story, mainly in South Africa, was beautifully narrated, the African Bush, vivid and alive in Burton’s capable words. She used Mary’s research to raise the ultimate dilemma between politics, ethics, and loyalties as she pushed Mary to such limits that you wondered how she managed to reconcile it all in her head, as she looked back, when that past threatened her very being.

Kate’s story, post crisis, although different raised similar dilemma’s, perhaps the most horrific choice of all, that of who should live and who should die. It all, quite literally took my breath away, it almost felt too close to what has happened in the last twelve weeks, as I relived conversations I had had as part of my job as a GP receptionist.

Whatever issues, Smith raised, however close it all seemed, what you had to admire was the storytelling, the ingenious mix of science and human emotion, of real characters faced with everyday dilemmas, of living through the extraordinary and wondering if they would emerge unscathed on the other side.

I have to congratulate Eve Smith on this amazingly brilliant debut and await with baited breath for her next novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Waiting Rooms to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to partcipate in the blogtour

About the author

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.

Set twenty years after an antibiotic crisis,her debut novel The Waiting Roomswas shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.

#Blogtour The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble #ElizabethNoble @MichaelJBooks @ellamwatkins #TheFamilyHoliday

The Family Holiday
The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble MichaelJBooks June 26th 2020

Book Synopsis

The Chamberlain family used to be close.

Charlie and Daphne were happily married, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick were inseparable. But then, inevitably, the children grew up and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since Daphne died, Charlie can’t help but think about happier times for the Chamberlain family – before his children drifted apart. His wife was the family’s true north, and without her guidance, Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again. And by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

So, for the first time in a long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.

It’s only ten days . . . how bad could it be?

My Review

Families, love them or hate them most of us are part of one. Some families are close, some see each other occasionally, and it is very rare to find a family that doesn’t have its issues.

The Chamberlain family were no different, and that is what I liked about Noble’s creations. Each character was real, someone you could come across in everyday life, they were all so different, all had their own problems, problems that we all could face at sometime.

What was rare, was the fact that I didn’t dislike any of the characters, when usually there was always one that got on my nerves, or whom I didn’t have any feelings towards.

Charlie, widower and head of the Chamberlains’ was the Dad, Grandad you always wanted, except he didn’t think so, and you loved his attempts to pull his family together, to celebrate his birthday, but also to try and fix his children, to make life better for them.

Yet, you knew it wasn’t only up to him and Noble gave us great insights into what it means to be separated and replaced by a younger model, or to be left a young widower with a full time job and three young children. She gave us teenage angst, as Ethan coped with his parents separation, but also the joys and unhappiness that comes with young love.

It wasn’t all unhappiness, they were moments of pure joy, of finally finding that one person that made you complete, of looking around you and trying to fix those around you. Heather was that person, the outsider, the brash, perfect American who had to work so hard to fit in. I loved the role that Noble gave her, the unknown, but ultimately the fixer, as she applied the glue that appeared to stick them together.

Now you might think that a novel such as this could be quite saccharine, full of cosy cliches, but it wasn’t. It may not have been complex with tonnes of subplots, but it did explore human emotion, how life can stop us in our tracks, make us reassess, and give us hope, that there is light at the end. It was this simplicity that I loved, the pull of a damn good story, that was heartwarming and sincere.

I would like to thank Michael J Books for a copy of The Family Holiday to read and review and to Ella Watkins for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet Weekends, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, The Girl Next Door, The Way We Were, Between a Mother and her Child, Love, Iris and The Family Holiday. Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbands is her tenth novel.

#Blogtour The Strange Adventures Of H by Sarah Burton @AdventuresOfH1 @legend_press #TheStrangeAdventuresOfH

The Strange Adventures Of H by Sarah Burton Legend Press May 1st 2020

Book Synopsis

Orphaned young, H is sent to live with her doting aunt in London. H’s life is a happy one until her lecherous cousin robs her of her innocence, and the plague takes away the city and the people she loves. H is cast out – friendless, pregnant and destitute – into the rapidly emptying streets of London under quarantine.

Forced to fend for herself, she is determined to gain back the life she lost. H will face a villain out for revenge, find love in the most unexpected places, and overcome a betrayal that she never could have foreseen. Weathering it all, can H charm, or scheme, her way to the life of freedom and independence that she longs for?

My Review

Who was H? To begin she was the young orphan sent off with elder sister, Evelyn to live with Aunt Madge in London, a far cry from their humble rural home, but then something happened as Burton took us and H through some pivotol moments in London’s history that shaped the new H.

From the start you couldn’t help but love H, the naive young girl who delighted at the new sights of London, to the unknown quantities of the characters that entered her new life. They were characters that would have a distinct impact, especially that of her cousins Frederick and Roger. They were light and dark, good and bad, the bad the start of her downfall but also, in my opinion, the making of her.

Yet Burton was clever, her use of two major events in London history, the Great Plague and Fire gave her licence to describe a London under siege. The horrors of the plague were graphic and chilling, you felt yourself recoil in horror at the selfishness that pervaded, of the fear and dread that encapsulated the city. You could see H’s instinct for survival kick in, hard choices made before Burton gave us the Great Fire of London, the destruction and turmoil for H and fellow Londoners. It gave her the opportunity to be her own person, as she exploited men’s weaknesses for her own gain, as she achieved notoriety, wealth and independence.

Burton gave her a hard, determined exterior but maintained her femininity, her vulnerability, and as the story progressed the real H slowly began to materialise. We witnessed her own slow acceptance of who she was, what the people in her life meant to and the slight chink in her armour as she learnt to trust.

H was a wonderful character but she wasn’t the only one. There were her sisters, all so different, her gentlemen friends, Lord H and Charlie and my favourites Jasper and Godfrey who added colour and a measure of fun.

What I admired most about Burtons narrative was her portrayal of women, of their lack of standing, the derision men poured on them, yet who relied on them for more than simple household duties. Burton showed what happened when one woman opposed them, stood up for herself and in some instances outwitted and rose above them.

Above all The Strange Adventures Of H was that wonderful mix of the historical with a dawn good story and characters that transfixed and entertained.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The Strange Adventures of H to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF H is Sarah’s debut novel for adults. Sarah was the course director of Cambridge University’s MSt in Creative Writing. She has written for BBC History Magazine and reviews for the Times, Spectator, Guardian and Independent.