About the Book
When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?
Life can be brutal
Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack knew it
Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.
So did I
Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.
Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?
But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.
Looking back, I think I did . . .
Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.
‘Beautifully written and superbly constructed, Anderson pulls you onto a chilling footpath of love and loss and keeps you there until you’ve read every last word’ Ruta Sepetys, bestselling author of Between Shades of Grey
About the Author
Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.
What I Thought
First up this book could do with one heck of a trigger warning. There wasn’t one in the ARC so I don’t know if there is one in the finished copy.
TW for suicide, addiction, violence, murder.
This book gets straight into the dark stuff and it keeps on piling although there are periods of quiet respite. It is a gritty depiction of the uglier sides of life and it feels authentic in its rawness. I can see this one winning prizes!
Each chapter starts off with Ava’s voice, speaking from the end of the story, adding weight to our foreboding, as an example the end of her part in chapter two says ‘We knew each other nine days.’
The rest of the chapters are close third person, mainly from Jack’s POV but also from the antagonist and a cop.
The three children, teenagers Jack and Ava, and Jack’s younger brother Matty are definitely victims of their circumstances – all born into families that mean they do not have a head start at life. Two quotes that struck me were:
“He lay in the dark and the blue, and he wished for a more beautiful world than there was.”
“You can’t just tell people they’re the master of their fate and let them believe it. They’ll think they’ve done something wrong their entire life.”
Those reflect how much this book makes your heart bleed for these characters. But they do find beauty in each other and it’s their relationships – the tender love between the brothers, the youngest looking to the eldest for protection; and the blossoming feelings between Ava and Jack. There is a hint of instant attraction between them but it is the kindness they show each other that has you rooting for this pair of starcrossed lovers. There are definite echoes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in their tale, which swaps Verona for Idaho.
The wintery snowy landscape adds to the atmosphere of the story – with the constrast between its barrenness and beauty reflecting the characters’ experiences.
Anderson’s prose is beautiful. This book has a very lyrical feel which plays against the brutality in the story.
This book will shatter you. According to goodreads a book two is planned and some healing is definitely needed. I’m certainly not ready to let these characters go.
Thanks you to @TheWriteReads and the publisher for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review. I have to admit preferring the cover of the ARC as I think it better reflects the story inside. Below are the UK and US finished covers.
About the Book
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.
The old millennium turns into the new.
In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.
Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.
Anna leaves with empty arms.
Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.
The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.
Perhaps beyond . . .
About the Author
Dawn French has been making people laugh for 30 years. As a writer, comedian and actor, she has appeared in some of this country’s most long-running and celebrated shows, including French and Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley, Jam and Jerusalem, and more recently, Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Her first three novels, A Tiny Bit Marvellous, Oh Dear Silvia and According to YES, are all Sunday Times bestsellers.
“Because of Me”
I was excited to delve into this because … Dawn French! and so I started the audiobook delighted that it was being read by the author. But, I had to stop listening. And that is ‘Because of Me’, I hadn’t actually read the Synopsis 🤦♀️.
Some of you may remember me sharing my personal fertility journey on here a while back. Well sadly that didn’t work out positively for me (after two failed IUI and one failed IVF) and the topic of this book and its early chapters I found very triggering (IVF, infant loss) because I’m not in the best headspace mentally at the moment.
And that’s okay. Sometimes you pick up a book and it’s simply not the right time to read it. I’m so sorry that I’m not in a place to review the book right now but I can certainly tell you that it is likely to ‘hit you in the feels’. Do check out the other tour stops on the blog (picture below) to see what everyone else thought.
It was actually baby loss awareness week last week and I just want to highlight a couple of friend’s charities.
The lovely folks at Penguin as well as being very understanding are sponsoring giveaway of an audiobook copy of the book via audiobooks.com.
To be in with a chance of winning an audiobook copy of Because of You by Dawn French finish the sentence Because of You, I… and share the blog tour poster using #BecauseofYouAudio, and tag in me @kirstyes and @penguinbooksuk. I will randomly pick the #giveaway winner on Wednesday 21st 2020.
Thank you to penguin for the audiobook link for the purposes of a review (which I will do in the future when in a better headspace), and for sponsoring the giveaway.
There has been lots of buzz about The Thursday Murder Club so when invited I snapped up the chance to join the audiobook blog tour. It’s already out now so do grab yourself a copy and pop the kettle on.
About the Book
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.
But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?
Listen to a Sample On Audible
About the Author
Richard Osman has worked as an executive producer on numerous UK shows. Richard’s popularity and tremendous knowledge of trivia led to him presenting his own BBC quiz show and several others, as well as being the host of Pointless with 7 million views. He is also a regular on panel shows and writes a column for the Radio Times.He has more than 830k followers across social media.
About the Audiobook Narrator
Lesley Manville is an English Actress of Stage and Screen who frequently collaborates with Director Mike Leigh.
What I Thought
Pointless is one of my Nainy’s favourite shows – reminder Kirsty ‘Do not phone when Pointless is on!’ so I am familiar with Richard Osman, as well as following him on twitter thanks to his 2017 Red Nose Day World Cup of Biscuits twitter poll which saw the Chocolate Digestive reign supreme. The Thursday Murder Club was definitely on my radar and I’m simply going to say upfront that I loved it.
This is quintessentially English cosy-crime in the vein of Midsommer Murders but just imagine Diana and Tom from the BBC sitcom Waiting for God as the detectives. I’ve also likened it to Robin Stevens middle grade schoolgirl detective series Murder Most Unladylike imagining if Daisy and Hazel have grown up and gone to live in a retirement village together.
The description calls the village peaceful – ha! But the setting is as much a character as the people and Osman paints it vividly. As an Occupational Therapist I do like the concept of retirement villages more than residential and nursing homes and the Jigsaw room is where the occupation happens. Well. It’s where the Thursday Murder Club meet and put the pieces of old murder puzzles together, until there’s suddenly one in their midst.
The characters at first are larger than life, some might consider them stereotypes, but the joy of this novel is in getting to know them and breaking down those stereotypes much like we do in real life. It’s positive that despite being a rural British location the diversity of the characters in terms of ethnicity is included.
These characters are on the older age of the spectrum of the human condition and Osman treats them with the respect and individuality that all older people deserve. I love the fact that their previous lives and careers play such an important role in their personalities and in the story, as it would. So often older people are just seen as the troubles they are currently having. We have former police, healthcare and union workers, and a potential former spy.
As expected in a book featuring older people, health conditions such as strokes and dementia appear and concepts such as loss of independence, assisted dying and bereavement also feature heavily. Definite trigger warnings for a whole host of death related topics but it’s handled sensitively.
Joyce is our only first person point of view character as she is documenting what has been going on and I loved her side story featuring her relationship with her daughter Joanna, one I’m sure is echoed up and down the country. And Joyce’s Lemon Drizzle cake seems to be better than M&S’s. Who’d have thought that the instigator of the World Cup of Biscuits would feature food so prominently in his book?! 🤷♀️ Love the pop culture references that litter the stories including the reality tv shows Ron’s celebrity son gets invited onto.
There are also actual police detectives involved and they also are fully realised characters who I suspect we will get to find out more about as we continue with the series. We have former London MET officer Donna and Chris and how they interconnect with the Murder Club provides some of the most humorous parts of the book.
It’s a slice of life, murder mystery with observational humour and more humanity peeled back as we move through the tale.
Who Did It?
Ha. As if I’d spoil that! Let’s just say it’s pretty twisty turns so if you work it out you should definitely join The Thursday Murder Club in their next adventure. Yup there’s more on the way. There’s an exclusive interview between Richard Osman and Marian Keyes – which you shouldn’t listen to until after you’ve finished the book -where we get some exciting hints about what’s to come in book two. You can even pre-order it now although we don’t yet know the title.
Do check out the other stops on the blog tour to see what they thought. Thank you to Chloe at Penguin for the gifted audio review copy for the purposes of this honest review.
After listening I’m even more excited to get my signed copy from Goldsboro books – look at those stencil edges 😍.