Book Review: Unforgivable by Mike Thomas

Unforgivable

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Publication Date: 27th July 2017
Genre: Crime and Mystery

 

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Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. But this isn’t the middle East – this is Cardiff…

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will Macready and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out…

Macready is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon Macready must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

 

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I wanted to read Unforgivable because of the atrocious terror attacks that we’ve seen in the UK this year, as it deals with the sensitive topic of terrorism in Cardiff, particularly the response of the police force and the challenge of staying one step ahead of the perpetrators. I can happily say that I was not disappointed!

Unforgivable gives a chilling fictional narrative of the mindset behind these horrific acts, delving into the reasons and justifications behind the perpetrator’s decision to commit such atrocities. It’s impossible to go into much more detail about the plot without giving away some of the most fascinating and shocking twists and developments in the police investigation, but if you love books centred around crime with a fast-paced plot development, then this is the book for you!

Will Macready is an incredibly likeable character, whose complicated relationship with his wife and brother provided another element to the storyline which both allowed a break from the intense central thread of terrorism, and also permitted me to get to know Will and invest in him as a person. I feel like I definitely would have benefitted from reading Ash and Bones beforehand (the first book in the DC Will Macready series) so that I could understand why Will wasn’t given as much responsibility in this novel, but it didn’t affect my overall understanding of the plot and I quickly picked up on the events of the first book.

Unforgivable kept me guessing until the very end – I was convinced I had the right suspect throughout the whole novel, and I was very wrong. This was one of the things I loved about this book, as it is one of the only crime and mystery novels I have read this year which successfully made me suspect an innocent character!

I can’t wait to read more by Mike Thomas, and to see what happens next for Will Macready.

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#PRHJobHack Day!

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I’ve been a little quiet on the blog for the past few days because I’ve literally been run off my feet! I was in Sheffield for my graduation last Thursday and Friday (I’m no longer a student, aaah!), and then I headed straight to Derby early on Saturday morning for the #PRHJobHack event, hosted by Penguin Random House. Safe to say it’s been one of my favourite weeks of 2017 so far!

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For over a year now I’ve known I want to work in the publishing industry. Not only do I love books, but I love the editing/copywriting parts of my University degree, so I know that this particularly industry is one I’d adore to work in! However, as I live up North and the publishing hub is in London, it’s difficult to make those connections and really get an insight into what the publishing industry is all about. I’ll admit it – the lack of publishing job opportunities where I live has me feeling quite defeated at times! I’m always on the lookout for events and workshops related to publishing so I can inch myself forward in my job search. So, as soon as I heard about the Job Hack day that Penguin Random House put on in four different locations across the country, I immediately applied, and I was lucky enough to be accepted!

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Penguin Random House (as I’m sure you’re all aware) is one of the UK’s leading publishing houses, which is home to fantastic authors such as Paula Hawkins. The JobHack day was designed to give anyone interested in the publishing industry a chance to experience what each particular job role involves, and what you can expect on a day-to-day basis. Throughout the day, we got to learn about what an editorial assistant gets up to (my personal favourite!), as well as listening to lovely representatives from marketing and publicityHR and audio book production. It was great to get an insight into each of these different avenues and to see how each division of the Penguin Random House team comes together with their individual roles to produce some of the UK’s – and the world’s – most cherished books.

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There were a series of engaging and interesting workshops put on during the day, including creating a publicity campaign for a new book, choosing an editorial assistant to hire based on their CV, and planning and recording our own audio books. My personal favourite was putting together our own publicity campaign for a lifestyle and mindfulness guide, which made me consider lots of potential issues with promoting different genres of novels which I hadn’t ever considered before! Each activity was both interactive and informative, and showed just how lovely the team at Penguin Random House truly are. There were also some great bookish freebies, and penguin-shaped cake pops to take home!

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I would passionately recommend the experience to those of you who are considering a career in publishing, or simply want to learn how books go from a manuscript to a finished product. I was able to meet some lovely people with the same interests as me, and it solidified my desire to work in the publishing industry!

These events are few and far between, but do keep an eye out for the next Job Hack day hosted by Penguin Random House! It really was an enriching and enjoyable day for those who love all things bookish.

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Book Review: Shelter by Sarah Franklin

Shelter

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date: 27th July 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

 

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Blurb

The world was alive out here, the scent of bud and blossom in every breath a stark contrast to the thud of bombs into sandbanks, or worse, the iron tang of blood.

This was a place where you could hide, where you could start again…

Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.

What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?

SHELTER is a captivating and tender novel about love, hope and how we find solace in the most troubled times.

 

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Review

Sarah Franklin has without a doubt become one of my new favourite authors. Situating the growing relationship of the main characters Connie and Seppe into the context of the restraints of World War 2, Sarah tackles the sensitive topic of the perils of war in a way which both compliments the characters she introduces, but also magnifies the significance of the storyline at her fingertips. I immediately came to love her writing style as she collated pieces of flashbacks into a mosaic which truly represented the bittersweet journey the two main characters found themselves on before reaching the forest. I adored seeing their two individual experiences come together, with Connie learning to leave the death of her family behind after the bombing of her neighbourhood, and Seppe coming to terms with life as a prisoner of war.

The plot was perfect given the lack of freedom Seppe has from his prison camp, explaining just how much of a release it is for him to meet Connie. Nevertheless, it makes it all the more heartbreaking when their hopes for the future start to disentangle from each other, as their individual wartime experiences shape their thoughts and feelings about what their lives hold for them. Combined with the open arms of Frank, Joyce and Amos (and another beautiful character who I will not reveal in fear of giving away spoilers!), Shelter is sure to spring a few tears to the eyes of those who empathise with the notion of life not always working out exactly how you’d have hoped, despite all of its promises.

Sarah portrays the trials and tribulations of wartime relationships perfectly, from the agony of anticipating the return of conscripted family members to the acceptance of prisoners of war as one’s own. She also subtly yet strikingly emphasises the lasting endurance of conflict, while at the same time reinforcing that while war provides the wider picture, we must not forget that individual lives and narratives go on.

Without revealing any spoilers, this book warmed my heart and also made me consider the potential fatalities of war that stretch far beyond the battlefield. Credit goes to Sarah Franklin for an ending that encompasses all the lessons that Shelter taught to those who read it.

 

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The Blogger Recognition Award!

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I was recently nominated for this award by the lovely Traveling Across Pages, whose post you can check out here. Thank you so much for nominating me!

The rules are as follows;

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Write a post to show your award
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them & provide the link to the post you created

 

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How did my blog start?

I spend the majority of my spare time reading and posting reviews of the books I’ve loved on Twitter so that the author sees what a great job they’re doing! But I wanted to be able to share these posts further and get more involved in the book blogger community, so I created The Beauty of Reading to get stuck in. My end goal is to work in publishing, so I also wanted to build a blog that I’m proud of, that I enjoy doing in my spare time, and that shows my dedication to the book industry.

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers…

  1. Don’t feel pressured to start producing 7 blog posts a week immediately. If that comes naturally to you, and you feel ready to put 100% into your content straight away, that’s great – give it your all! However, I’m pretty conscious of the fact that I want my blog to be a hobby and something I look forward to adding to, rather than feeling a duty to post a certain amount of reviews per week or to keep my followers growing per day. I want to keep my blogging experience organic and enjoyable, so my biggest piece of advice would be to give yourself a goal that you feel comfortable with!
  2. Get involved! I feel like this is an unwritten rule. One of the most enjoyable things about blogging (from my experience so far) is engaging with people who have the same interests as you and getting to know all sorts of different people from different backgrounds. Comment, like, and let people know when you’ve really enjoyed a post of theirs. It makes all the difference!

The bloggers I nominate…

(I’m sorry if you’ve already done this guys – if so, just a little note to say I’m really enjoying your content and wanted to give you a shout-out!)

  1. Fiction Fan
  2. GingerSnapps
  3. Kristin Kraves Books
  4. Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews
  5. The Mundane Teenage Life
  6. xmeganlisa
  7. SnazzyBooks
  8. betweenthepages
  9. WhimsyPages
  10. Payton’s Book Thoughts
  11. mistysbookspace
  12. thelittlereadingblog
  13. Emma The Book Lover
  14. Darque Dreamer Reads
  15. kayyreads

If you haven’t already, check out the blogs above – they’re all amazing and I’m sure you’ll love them just as much as I do!

 

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Get To Know Me Tag!

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As a new blogger to the community I wanted to post something a little different amongst my book reviews that lets you guys know a little bit more about me! I found this tag on one of my new favourite blogs, Jenny in Neverland, so I thought I’d give it a go! Enjoy…

(EDIT: this post ended up much more rambly and chatty than intended, so please do get yourself a brew and a comfy chair before reading!)

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1. Tell us five random facts about you

I’ve recently graduated from the University of Sheffield with a 2:1 degree in History (I’m now in that panic-stricken post-study stage of life where I’m frantically applying for graduate jobs!). My favourite author as a child was Jacqueline Wilson, who I will always admire for replying to every single letter and story I sent her no matter how terrible they were. I used to compete as a Ballroom and Latin dancer – and wish I’d carried on! I’m left-handed (which to this day still seems to surprise 90% of the right-handed population). I’m due to become an Auntie on September 12th to a beautiful little boy, who as-of-yet is still nameless! I’m sure I’ll intercept a few of my book posts with updates on the books he starts to love as he gets older.

2. When is your birthday?

My birthday is the 22nd September, making me 21 years old. I’ve always loved my birthday as in the UK we tend to get an Indian summer after the inevitable downpours in the ACTUAL summer months, so it’s usually warm and sunny on my birthday.

3. What is your favourite colour?

My childhood self would say baby pink to this question, but as I’ve gotten older it depends what said colour is referring to! My favourite wardrobe colours are white, grey and lilac, my favourite colour for decor is grey and white, and my favourite colour for cars is white. Okay, I think we’ve all actually just established that the answer to this is white. I’m getting to know MYSELF in this tag!

4. What is your favourite memory?

I went through a really bad period last summer where I found it difficult to get up and had dipped into a pretty low place, so my favourite memory comes at the end of that as it was such a contrast. My family and I took a day trip to Llandudno where we rode toboggans, got ice-cream on the pier and walked along the beach looking for shells. It was so lovely coming out of such a terrible time in my life and spending quality time with the three people I love the most in such a beautiful place. It’s my favourite memory because it was the moment I realised that life goes on no matter how awful you feel, and it made me recognise the value of the little things in life.

5. Describe a day in your life

I’ve just finished university so my daily routine – until I get a job – is pretty relaxed! I wake up and catch up on Twitter and any blog posts I’ve missed, usually with This Morning on in the background. Then I do some mini reviews for Readers First (book lovers, you REALLY need to check them out if you haven’t already!) and apply to any jobs I like the look of that fit my future career goals. On my favourite days, I’ll head over to see my boyfriend in the afternoon where we chill and watch Netflix – we’ve just finished watching Drugs Inc., which was enlightening to say the least.

6. Name five of your favourite songs

Strip That Down by Liam Payne because I CAN’T STOP SINGING IT NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRY. Good Time by J Hus – he’s my favourite artist at the minute. Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled/Rihanna/Bryson Tiller for the amazing guitar solo (you know which one I mean!). For when I’m feeling a slower one, I’m loving Adele’s When We Were Young, and for a general all-time favourite that never gets old, it has to be Hold on, We’re Going Home by Drake. Yep, quite a mix!

7. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Spaghetti Bolognese. I genuinely think I lived off this at university and I can still look at it today without my stomach churning so I reckon its a tried-and-tested safe option for me. (I can happily report my cooking skills have matured a little since then!).

8. What is something you really dislike?

People lying. I just don’t see the point, because in the long run it does more damage than good and it ends up with people getting much more hurt than if you’d told them the truth in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little white lie occasionally (I promise I’m busy seeing my grandma and not actually snuggled up in bed reading my new book, no I don’t know where my sister’s new top went but I DEFINITELY didn’t wear it out last Friday night, etc etc.), but I have no tolerance for anything above that level. I know way too many people who have ‘the-boy-who-cried-wolf’ tendencies, and it really is a deal breaker for me.

9. Summer or Winter?

Winter. I do love the extra sunlight hours we get with Summer, but the humidity and the sudden appearance of thousands of flying insects really doesn’t sit well with me! I love Winter because I can guiltlessly snuggle under a blanket with my favourite book, turn on the fairy lights and watch old classics on the TV. I’m a homebody, so Winter definitely wins!

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

Realistically, I could never move away from my family and I love the feeling of leaving the dreary English weather and stepping on a plane to go on holiday somewhere hot and beautiful once a year, so I’d actually stay in the UK! It has its flaws, admittedly, but it’s home for me and I’d be quite happy living in the English countryside or by the sea. Although ask me again once I’ve retired – I’ll probably be living in Spain!

11. Name your five favourite films

Matilda, Limitless, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Fundamentals of Caring, and Boss Baby. I don’t watch films very often, but I liked these ones a lot!

12. If you won the lottery what would you buy?

Presents for everyone first! If I were to win it right now, I’d buy my Dad and boyfriend their dream cars, I’d help my Mum set up her own shop so she could make a living out of her love of antiques and collectables, and I’d buy my sister a gorgeous apartment close-by with a nursery room in for my little nephew. For myself, I’d buy my own apartment, perhaps take a very spontaneous holiday in the Caribbean, and invest the rest in property as a permanent source of income. I’m sure there’d be a few shopping trips thrown in there too!

13. Favourite day of the week?

Monday. Controversial, but it’s a new start and I always feel more motivated at the beginning of the week!

14. What three things would you take to a desert island with you?

I struggled so much with this question! A notebook and pen (that counts as one, right?) so I could write a best-selling novel on my return about my adventure, a solar-powered Kindle so I could read all day every day (my idea of heaven), and a pillow.

15. Sweet or savoury?

Savoury. If I’m snacking, I’d much rather have crisps than chocolate and I usually go for a starter over a dessert.

16. Early bird or night owl?

I’d love to be an early bird and wake up feeling refreshed and productive, but the university lifestyle has definitely made me a night owl! I don’t mind waking up early, but only if I know I don’t have to physically get up (hopefully that’ll change when I start working as I don’t like coffee!)

17. Name five of your favourite books

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Amnesia by Michael Ridpath, The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

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Quite a read, huh!? I hope this gave you a little insight into the face behind the beauty of reading. As I’m new to the community, I won’t be tagging anybody specific this time, but do feel free to comment with your own answers or do the tag on your blog – make sure you leave your link below so I can read them! 

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Book Review: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch

Blurb

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died…

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a 28-year-old woman with a unique condition – she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating, near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become reclusive in her adulthood, living the past nine years in the confines of the Victorian house her unaffectionate mother deeded to her when she ran off with a wealthy businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world – and the people in it – she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son who believes he has untapped telekinetic powers, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off course, and how to be the dad – and man – he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee…

An untraditional but beautiful love story about the power and possibilities of the human heart.

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Review

The story of Jubilee Jenkins is one that I will undoubtedly recommend to those wanting a love story that seems set against all odds, yet somehow overcomes all its trials and tribulations. From dealing with an unheard-of allergy which isolates Jubilee from the rest of the world, to coming to terms with the death of her estranged mother, Colleen Oakley takes the reader on Jubilee’s emotional journey of growth and acceptance so that we truly understand just how important it is for her to open her arms to the world, both literally and symbolically.

The unexpected romance that blossoms between Jubilee and Eric is both heartwarming and heartbreaking; combined with the truly extraordinary connection between Jubilee and Eric’s grieving step-son, Aja, which only comes with a deep understanding of loneliness and grief, I turned each page praying that each character would tackle their personal situations and come to support and protect each other. Overall, the developing relationship between Jubilee and Eric shows that the beauty of love is not in its ease or simplicity, but in its strength and endurance.

The characters in Close Enough to Touch are ones I definitely won’t forget in a hurry! Aside from the main characters of Jubilee, Eric and Aja who I came to love, the addition of genuine but guilt-ridden friend Madison, potential future love interest Michael, and loveable librarian Louise really set the scene for Jubilee’s journey in expanding her world and accepting the love and support of those around her. Each character has their purpose and adds to the plot development as Jubilee attempts to overcome her agoraphobia, helping to both widen her restricted circle and to overcome her condition as each person makes an impact on her life.

Overall, Close Enough to Touch is a novel of love, loss and personal growth that will stick with me for life!

Book Review: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Sweet Little Lies

 

Blurb

What I thought I knew…

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared.

My Dad was involved in the disappearance of Maryanne Doyle.

Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?

Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

What I actually know…

Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.

Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub. Dad was in the local area when Maryanne Doyle disappeared and when Alice Lapaine was murdered.

FACT

 

Review

Cat Kinsella is already nervous about taking on the murder case of Alice Lapaine so soon after her traumatic discovery of a mother’s decaying corpse. However, Cat could never have imagined in her wildest dreams how truly life-changing Alice’s murder would be for herself and her family, and how closely the case would connect to her childhood suspicions about her father’s wrongdoings.

As the twists, turns and ‘little lies’ are revealed chapter by chapter, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to this murder than Cat or the reader first realise. Caz Frear throws out scraps of clues along the way through time lapses back to Cat’s youth, keeping the story moving at an intriguing yet satisfactorily progressive pace. It is these constant mini-reveals which take the reader on a detective journey alongside the police, piecing together scraps of evidence to try to discover ‘who-dunnit’ and why.

As the main character, Cat’s personal life and the effect of her childhood on her adult life gives the book a deeper dimension which made me adopt Cat as a friend rather than a character in a novel. Distracting herself from her family issues with her work, self-medicating with weed and wine, and attempting to forge familial-style relationships with her co-workers, Cat demonstrates the hardships of growing up in a less-than-normal family, which makes herself even more extraordinary. I just hope she got her happy ending and was able to put her family struggles behind her, as well as enjoy her newfound relationship – she certainly deserves it!

As far as crime novels go, this is by far my favourite, and the book itself has become one of my favourites of the year. I can’t wait to read more by Caz Frear!