The Many Colours Of Us by Rachel Burton – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

What if your life was built on lies?
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.
Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget…

My Review

I only occasionally read a romance fiction but every now again I appreciate a break from my usual choice of crime fiction. I am glad that I noticed the opportunity to read this book as part of a blog tour because I really enjoyed it.

Julia’s life changes completely when the father she has never known makes her the sole beneficiary in his will. As well as the property, money and possessions she is also handed a series of letters that has always been returned unopened. She has to come to terms with why her mother did this, as well as the reasons why his identity was always kept secret. Luckily there were quite a few people, all who knew what she didn’t, who could help.
This was a novel that I found very quick to read. I thought it was a lovely story with some very engaging people. I enjoyed Delph’s attempts at rebuilding the relationship with her daughter in the only way she knew. Even if it wasn’t the easiest way it worked. I loved the budding romance between Julia and Edwin, his disappointment at not remembering him from when she was a child and both of their reluctance to admit their feelings for each other. Happily, all the other characters and the reader could see how they were meant to be together. I don’t think there was one weak character, or one that I didn’t like. They all felt like normal people with good points and bad.
As I said earlier, this novel was out of my comfort zone but I’m glad that I have a found a new author whose books I will look out for in the future.
With thanks to the author for the copy received and to Jenny Marston for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
The Book can be purchased at Amazon

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Larchfield by Polly Clark – Review.

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About the Book

It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.
Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.
The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both. Echoing the depths of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger’s Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism – the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination

My Review

I’m not a huge fan of poetry but when this surprise book post arrived I liked the sound of it. It wasn’t my usual choice of fiction but I do like to read something a little different. It did take me a while to get into but once I did, I found it a fascinating read.
Wystan’s story was the one that I enjoyed more. A poet who I had heard of but knew nothing about. So, as I was reading I was also looking for more information about him via the internet, especially his friendship with Christopher Isherwood in a 1930s Berlin. His character seemed to be very loyal to his few friends, and very supportive of his pupils. The chapters that concerned him were much easier to read.
Dora, herself a poet, was missing her life in Oxford. Life in Scotland was different to the academic lifestyle which she used to have. She was also struggling to cope with a premature baby and had a pair of very vindictive neighbours.
The account of a life in the 1930s where homosexuality was illegal and shameful and the account of a life in modern day where postnatal depression could easily be misunderstood gave plenty to think about. Both were fully aware of what people thought of them and Dora especially felt isolated and struggled to cope with the attitudes of people around her.
Beautifully written, it is at times unsettling with some of the attitudes shown towards both the characters  and the situation in Berlin. A captivating novel, by an author I would read again.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill – Review.

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About the Book

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with a difference. Set throughout the roaring twenties, it is a wicked fairytale of circus tricks and child prodigies, radical chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians and brooding clowns, set in an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss.
It is the tale of two dreamers, abandoned in an orphanage where they were fated to meet. Here, in the face of cold, hunger and unpredictable beatings, Rose and Pierrot create a world of their own, shielding the spark of their curiosity from those whose jealousy will eventually tear them apart.
When they meet again, each will have changed, having struggled through the Depression, through what they have done to fill the absence of the other. But their childhood vision remains – a dream to storm the world, a spectacle, an extravaganza that will lift them out of the gutter and onto a glittering stage.
Heather O’Neill’s pyrotechnical imagination and language are like no other. In this she has crafted a dazzling circus of a novel that takes us from the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York, to a theatre of magic where anything is possible – where an orphan girl can rule the world, and a ruined innocence can be redeemed.

My Review

I have never read a book like The Lonely Hearts hotel before. In honesty, I have to say that it took me quite a while to get into it. The physical, emotional and sexual abuse received by both Rose and Pierrot at the orphanage was hard to read. And the fantasy used to help Pierrot through it felt strange.
However, when they both left the orphanage I found it much easier to read. Rose was a character that I warmed to the most. I loved her resolve to make her life better. She was incredibly gutsy and loyal to almost everybody she met. Pierrot’s life was more heartbreaking. Apart from the time he spent with his benefactor his life was pretty much a downward spiral under the very strong hold of a heroin addiction. The minor characters were also strong. McMahon, the club boss who was determined to destroy Rose by control. Poppy, messed up and too young for the life she led and just wanting to be loved.
It’s very theatrical and dramatic. At times, it felt like a technicolour fantasy. All the descriptions of the stage shows, Rose’s scenes with the bear were all vividly described. But the scenes I enjoyed the most, the ones that felt more real, were the images of extreme poverty. The fight to survive at a dreadful time in history.
It’s a book that I’m pleased I persevered with. I enjoyed seeing how their lives altered as they got older and how each of them coped after the hardest beginning.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

You can buy the book at amazon or waterstones

All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage.

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Upstate New York, 1980s

The farm stood at the foot of the hill. Around it, an aching emptiness of fields and wind. Within, a weight, a sense of being occupied, with more than its inhabitants.

The Clares got it cheap. George knew why, though he didn’t let on ­- he didn’t want to give Catherine any excuses. He’d given her an easy excuse to get married. He wasn’t prepared to give away much more.

Catherine, at home with their young daughter, has the feeling they’re not alone. She is helped by the Hale boys, young Cole and his brothers. Though they never tell her what happened to their mother in this house.

As the seasons burn and then bite, the Clares will find their place in this small upstate community. George, the inscrutable professor; his beautiful, brittle wife. He will try to tame the hollow need inside him. She will pull strength from the friends she makes. But as their marriage splinters, so too does the border between sanity and rage; between this world, and the inexplicable beyond.

With masterful tension and understanding of human nature, Elizabeth Brundage has crafted a novel that is at once a community’s landscape spanning twenty years and an intimate portrait of a disturbed mind. This is new American fiction at its most piercing, ambitious and chilling.

My Review:
I had expected this novel to be everything I enjoy in a novel, a combination of crime, history and ghost but ended up being a little disappointed. It started well, discovering what happened to the Hale family and then moving abruptly to the murder of Catherine Clare. It then covers the years that they spent together, starting from when they first met and finishing with her murder.
Unfortunately, most of this was slow going and it was only in the last third of the novel where I felt the need to read a little bit more. It was here that you started to realise exactly what type of person George was, self-obsessed, cruel and controlling. I could only admire Catherine for the way she tried to stand up to him.
The last part of the novel was mainly about the detective still haunted by the case twenty years later. I felt this part of the novel didn’t connect properly to the rest of it. Franny reappears, now an adult with no clear memories of her mother. I would have liked to get to know her more but she only had a fairly small role and I felt slightly unconvinced by her. Despite my misgivings about the actual story I liked the way it was written. I found it beautiful, atmospheric and the isolation was very convincing.
With thanks to Real Readers for the copy received.

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood.

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A one-in-a-million story for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…
Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete..

My Review:

‘The Boy’ ( you never learn his name) starts to visit Ona, a hundred and four year old Lithuanian woman for part of his scout duties. He feeds the birds, does various jobs around the home and when he becomes her friend they decide that she should and could become a World Record Holder. She looks forward to his visits and enjoys talking him about her life. And the one day he stops coming. She feels let down but then a few weeks later the boy’s father turns up and takes over his duties.
One life is cut tragically short, two others are trying their hardest to rebuild theirs. A big part of the rebuilding involved becoming friends with another who has had a long life and had experienced every life event in it. Both Quinn and Belle are very protective towards Ona, understanding the friendship that their son had with her. I loved her spirit, she still had her independence and was determined not to give in to people like the realtor who was waiting for her opportunity to pounce.
The relationship between the three was very special and lovely to read. Yes at times it was poignant but there was also humour, trust and friendship.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.