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Book review: The Phone Box at the Edge of the World

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By Laura Imai Messina
Translated from the Italian by Lucy Rand
Published by Manilla Press Synopsis: When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel to it from miles around.Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.How did this book end up in my hands? I read this novel twice. Once in Italian (original title: Quel che affidiamo al vento) and once in its English translation. The English version of the book was provided to me by the publish…

Book review: City of Spies

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By Mara Timon
Published by Zaffre Synopsis: Lisbon, 1943. After escaping from Nazi-Occupied France, SOE agent Elisabeth de Mornay, codename Cecile, receives new orders: she must infiltrate high society in neutral Lisbon and find out who is leaking key information to the Germans about British troop movements. As Solange Verin, a French widow of independent means, she will be able to meet all the rich Europeans who have gathered in Lisbon to wait out the war. One of them is a traitor, and she must find out who before more British servicemen die. Complications arise when 'Solange' comes to the attention of German Abwehr officer Major Eduard Graf. As they get to know each other, she struggles to keep her lies close to the truth. But in a city that is filled with spies, how can she tell who is friend or foe? How did this book end up in my hands? I was given a digital review copy by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.Was it a page-turner? This is certainly a…

Book review: Every Move You Make

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By Deborah Bee
Published by Zaffre Synopsis: A young woman turns up at a police station. She has been kept prisoner in her own home. Abused and tortured, her every move watched, her every thought controlled. Now she's finally escaped.That's what she says.But when the police arrive at the address she's given them, her story doesn't seem to add up. Her husband is missing, but his phone and wallet are still in the house.She says she's the victim, but what if she's not? What if the stories she's telling aren't her stories at all....How did this book end up in my hands? I was given a digital review copy by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.Was it a page-turner? Yes, for sure. Between the alternating points of view and the niggling feeling that you never know who you should trust, this makes for a book that is hard to put down!Did the book meet my expectations? Since joining a university research project on domestic noir, I feel draw…

Blog tour: A Year of Living Simply

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Welcome to the blog tour for A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble! Synopsis: If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy.  And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff - The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet - is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness.  So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young?  Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness?  Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we've lost sight of the things - the simple things - that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us…

Blog tour: The Rhino Conspiracy

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Welcome to the blog tour for The Rhino Conspiracy by Peter Hain, a riveting and timely thriller infused with the author’s insider knowledge of politics and activism. And today I am very happy to host a Q&A with Peter Hain himself! Hi Peter! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Rhino Conspiracy! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?A: The extinction threat facing the rhino from poaching and the serious corruption and international crime behind it.It’s set in contemporary South Africa where a battle rages between those betraying and seeking to uphold the Mandela legacy.Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?A: The basic plot and central characters were in my mind but the plot did indeed evolve.The ending was only hazy when I started – and at one stage I wasn’t at all sure how to maintain page-turning momentum and intrigue late on – …

Blog tour: Babushka

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Welcome to the blog tour for The Story of Babushka by Catherine Flores. Synopsis: Babushka wants to find out the meaning of life so she sends her bodies out of the forest and into the world to search for answers. But there is a hurdle to overcome, before all the bodies can reunite and return to the forest forever. The babushka doll, also known as a matryoshka or Russian nesting doll, is a traditional Russian toy first made over 100 years ago. The doll has come to symbolise Russian folk culture, as well as the complex and beautiful layers of women. Babushka dolls are made of wood and painted in bright colours and patterns. Each Babushka is made in a set of many round dolls each a little smaller than the last. They separate at the middle so that each doll can be placed inside the one before it. There are some Babushka dolls with as many as fifty dolls nested inside her.This is the story of one very special doll with five bodies that together make the Babushka.How did this book end up in …

Blog tour: Little Book of Hope

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Welcome to the blog tour for Louise Hall’s Little Book of Hope! Synopsis: The past few months have made us realise that change is inevitable – sometimes good but sometimes it can be cruel and makes your world go out of control.We might experience anxiety, low moods, night sweats, exhaustion or worse. We lose all hope and feel that there is nothing to look forward to. Little Book of Hope helps you find your way back again – through Reflections to guide you through the difficult times, together with: Family. Friends. Rest. Time - for yourself. Walk. Talk. Cry. Grieve. Meditate. Pray. Accept things. Patience. Dedicated to all those around the world who have lost hard but loved much - that you may re-discover Hope and welcome the beautiful pleasure of joy back into your lives.How did this book end up in my hands? I was gifted a review copy so that I could participate in this blog tour and provide you with my honest opinion.Was it a page-turner? I must say that I read this book in one sitti…