Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 - Top Five Novels

2016 has seen a wealth of amazing novels published by both debut and long established authors and I feel lucky to have started this blog in the midst of such greatness.  As such it has been tricky to narrow down the large number of fantastic books to a top five, but after much internal debate it has been finalised.  So, to see out 2016, The Very Pink Notebook is proud to cite these as its top picks for this year...

FIVE 

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies




With wonderful writing and the most beautiful and fragrant imagery, although this is a gently told novel the plot is packed with punch and body and has stayed with me.

Full review

FOUR

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard


Distress Signals: An incredibly gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won't see coming

A gripping psychological thriller set in the muddy realms of maritime law.  Catherine Ryan Howard's fantastic novel will keep you on the edge of your seat... or life ring.

Full review

THREE

Another Love by Amanda Prowse


Another Love


Chillingly real and poignant, Another Love is the story telling of Amanda Prowse at her best.  Looking at a women and her battle with alcohol and the consequences it has on everyone in her life, this is a heartfelt, moving and relatable novel.

Full review

TWO

A Suitable Lie by Michael Malone


A Suitable Lie

This novel is just, brilliant.  Dark, domestic and brutal it will keep you turning the pages long into the night and make you rethink the way you think.

Full review

ONE

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh


Clare Mackintosh's debut novel, psychological thriller I Let You Go, take the number one spot for The Very Pink Notebooks top five novels of 2016.  Fantastically written, with superb dialogue and descriptions and a twist you will never see coming is what makes this book impossible to put down.

Full review

To say, as a reviewer, I am looking forward to 2017 is an understatement.

Happy New Year!








Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Blog Tour and Review : The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

The Very Pink Notebook is overwhelmingly thrilled to be part of Amanda Prowse's, 
The Food of Love, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Amanda for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.


Published by - Lake Union Publishing
1 December 2016
Copy - ARC copy received from author


The Blurb

A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.

Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.

But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

It is a lovely thing, to be asked to review a book, but when the author is one of your long time favourites it becomes quite an event.  For me, being asked to be involved in Amanda Prowse's blog tour for The Food of Love, is one of those times.

Often reviewers will say they felt a little anxious at the start of a favourite authors new book, what if it isn't as good as those that have gone before it?  I had no such concerns with this book, just from the blurb I could tell that Amanda had honed in on yet another harrowing topic, which she would raise awareness of by her tried and tested successful format of writing a novel about a women's fight for her family.

The particular fight for the protagonist in this novel, Freya, is against the illness that blights her youngest daughter, Lexi.  Anorexia.  This is not an easy book to read, there is no light-hearted streak running through it, there is no miraculous or unrealistic resolutions, it is full on with emotion and heart-ache and anguish.  But it is brilliant.  The characters are so fully formed and developed your heart feels heavy for them and you find yourself rooting for them to just stay strong, to stick together. 

For me, this book was a real eye opener.  You know the author has thoroughly researched the subject matter and novel gives a realistic impression of life for those where anorexia permeates every waking (and sleeping) moment.  It shows how long term the illness is, how hard it is to find the crux and core to it, which without knowing makes it almost impossible to start to fight it.  Although written from the view point of Freya, the mother I felt I got a really full insight into how it affected all the main characters, Lexi herself, her father, Lockie, and sister Charlotte.  The scene that made me break the barriers and shed a tear was a very moving, but simple gesture between the two sisters. 

The format Amanda has used keeps the story moving along at a good pace and, as always, the narrative and dialogue is fluent and easy to read, making the book extremely hard to put down.  It didn't quite go where I thought it was going to go when I first started reading which was a lovely surprise.

Amanda Prowse says herself, she has found her talent and that is being able to write books, very quickly.  And knowing how frequently she publishes it always amazes me just how deep and developed the characters are and how detailed and well researched the plot is for the timescale she must give herself to work to.  This book is another example of how well this is done by this author.

The last thing for me to say isn't actually to do with the plot, but I feel it deserves mention so no one misses it :   READ THE AUTHORS NOTE.   

The Food of Love of course gets a Very Pink Notebook rating of :

     

About the Author

Amanda Prowse is a bestselling novelist with an incredible 136K followers on Twitter. This is her sixteenth novel and her books have been translated into a dozen languages and regularly top bestseller charts all over the world. Amanda has been dubbed ‘The Queen of Domestic Drama’ and writes about ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined.

Through writing The Food of Love, Amanda has come face to face with her own feelings of shame, secrecy and obsession with food. Overweight as a child and a yo-yo dieter as an adult, Amanda has struggled with body image and overeating all her life.
She now recognizes that the habits of her once anorexic mother had a profound effect on her growing up. By writing about eating disorders in The Food of Love, Amanda has faced her own food demons and has made incredible steps to correcting her unhealthy relationship with food. Since she started writing the book, Amanda has lost one and a half stone and aims to reach her target, healthy weight by 1st December, the publication date of The Food of Love.

Follow the Tour

The tour continues tomorrow so I am passing the baton on to www.karensworld-writer.co.uk




Friday, 16 December 2016

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour and Review - The Mine by Antti Tuomainen

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Antti Tuomainen's, The Mine, Finnish Invasion blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

The Mine copy

Published by : Orenda Books
15 November 2016
Copy : Paperback - received from publisher as part of Blog Tour

The Blurb

A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Dark, emotive, complex and utterly brilliant, Antti Tuomainen's The Mine is crime mystery at it's best.

Set in the harsh winter months of Finland, Tuomainen's flawless and honed descriptions of places and environment literally had me shivering in my seat.  With the main protagonist being a highly driven but flawed young male, I was thrilled when we discover that not only are we going on a journey with Janne on his quest for the truth about what is going on at The Mine, but also and equally as important, his personal one.

Janne wants to be the best journalist he can possibly be, that is the highly driven part of him, the flawed part lies with his other roles in life; husband and father.  Also mixed up within the plot are his emotions about his own parents, particularly his father, who left when Janne was just a year old.  Tuomainen has created very real and believable characters and I particularly devoured the dialogue between Janne and his wife, Pauliina.

The novel is complex and I can only assume that the author must have retired to bed with a confused and aching head on more than one occasion to thrash out just how he was going to carefully and plainly breakdown the threads of the plot to one easily digestible book.  But achieve that he has and hat's off to him.

The pace is fast and not one chapter passes without a significant piece of detail coming to light, which I loved.  Written in both first and third person narratives, I also liked that the perspective and investigation came from somewhere other than the police line.  Janne isn't out to uncover the crime per se, but moreover the truth - but boy, a lot of crimes take place throughout the duration of the story.

This novel reminded me of Erin Brockovich, but with much more testosterone and bloodshed.  A certain page turner until the very end.

The Mine receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :







 

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour and Review - The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Kati Hiekkapelto's, The Exiled, Finnish Invasion blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

The Exiled copy

Published by : Orenda Books
15 November 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher as part of Blog Tour

The Blurb

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?  

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Kati Hiekkapelto has brought alive a fantastic character in protagonist Anna Fekete.  I love her single-minded, tunnel vision of herself - crime fighting police officer, workaholic, because if she is that person, she doesn't need to worry about a personal life and finding out who she really is.  Only, in the case she finds herself embroiled when she takes a trip back 'home' she is forced to face up to some reality about her past.  Full of twists and turns and a plethora of unreliable and corrupt characters it is impossible to know who is telling the truth, who is noble, who is not.  I couldn't even attempt to second guess what was going to happen thus making this novel a real page turner. 

Hiekkapelto has chosen a subject matter particularly prevalent at the moment to address in this novel, one of immigration.  She uses a cross section of characters to voice the many, many opinions that can be heard far and wide about the issue and I felt she put down a very equal measure of a very real situation within her book.  The use of well thought out imagery of the Balkans by the author helps to darken and lighten the tone of the story and with the writing as sharp as the character the plot moves along at a good steady pace.  The balance of police investigation to Anna's private affairs was well proportioned and the author made me feel as if I got to know the inner workings of Anna's mind quite intimately, which helped me understand, as the reader, why she makes the decisions she does. 

I particularly liked the relationship between Anna and her mother, complex and highly emotional although in an indirect way rather than direct way it helped to explain how Anna can force herself to be seemingly so emotionless towards anything or anyone other than work. 

Although this is a fairly dark crime novel, it is written with a poetic feeling about it, with the descriptions about the Tisza, the mayfly hatching that makes the river blossom, the festival that all the inhabitants of the town are literally waiting for so they can celebrate.  It is a bright light of hope, in a novel who's subject matter is really quite bleak.

If you enjoy a good cat and mouse hunt then you will enjoy the translated version of Kati Hiekkapelto's The Exiled.


Follow the Tour

Find out what others thought of The Exiled by following the tour.  Tomorrow I hand over to Blooming Brilliant Books :


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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Publication Day - The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to congratulate Amanda Prowse on her publication day.  The new, emotional book, The Food of Love, is out now.


The blog tour kicks off today and will run throughout December :



Sunday, 27 November 2016

Book Tour and Review : What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of T.A. Cotterell's, What Alice Knew, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Becky Hunter for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.


Publisher : Black Swan
E : 1 December 2016 / Paperback 20 April 2017
Copy : Blogger Edition Paperback received from B.Hunter at Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The opening line of this book is brilliant.  It wasn't until the end that I realised it's significance to the novel as a whole.  It is a perfect and clever summarisation.

What Alice Knew is a thriller of unusual proportions.  Stepping away from the 'who done it' chase, it instead looks at the grimy aftermath and the damaging and lasting effects on a couple when one has committed a crime.

Thrust into the world of Alice and Ed, one a creative portrait artist with an almost compulsive obsession with searching for the truth in people and pulling out the 'honesty' in them through the art she produces, the latter a highly regarded and decorated obstetrician, who finds himself thoroughly adored by colleagues, friends and family alike we soon find their, almost too perfect life, smashed to pieces by a series of unfortunate events resulting in an untimely death.

We see events through the eyes of Alice.  We are taken on a journey with her through the series of emotions she feels on initial discovery of the incident, her take on events, her feelings about her husband and family, her decisions on what to do with the information she has, the knowledge she has about the type of person her husband is.  But, Alice soon realises, perhaps she doesn't know what she thinks she does and really it becomes a case of what Alice doesn't know rather than what she does.

I have to say, I did not like the character of Ed and suspect he had a touch of the God-complex, a side effect of his job and the constant adoration he received because of it.  His initial remorse too quickly dissipates to almost arrogance - as he is constantly told by Alice -and believes himself, what he adds to life and the community, his impeccable character, his life-saving skills as an obstetrician, his wonderful relationship with their children, are worth more than admitting to something that although he maintains was an accident, would land him in a lot of trouble.  However, as Alice discovers little things that don't add up she finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her husband and I wanted to urge her on to keep digging, and of course her natural instinct as a portrait artist (see that first line of the book!) means she does, leaving the couple testing the strength of their marriage and relationship to the max.

Cotterell has used his extensive knowledge of art history and theory a lot throughout this book.  It works in seamlessly well and supports the plot entirely.  The author has written a complex, emotional story from quite a unique perspective and the ending is in complete unison with this.  I thought it was a brilliant and wholly fitting conclusion for Alice, perfect for her character and not as straight-forward as may first seem, just like everything else this novel.

As debut's go, T. A. Cotterell has nailed it with 'What Alice Knew', it is a gripping and meaty book that is a must read for anyone that loves a domestic psychological thriller.

What Alice Knew receives a 'highly recommend' : 



Follow the Tour


Tomorrow I hand over the baton to www.thebookwormsfantasy.wordpress.com
Discover what other readers thought of the book by following the tour :







Saturday, 12 November 2016

Book Tour - Because of You by Helene Fermont

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Helene Fermont's, Because of You, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Bookollective for involving me in the tour as a B Team member and for a copy of the book.

Image result for because of you helene fermont

Published by : Fridhem Publishing
15 August 2016
Copy : Paperback received from Bookollective

The Blurb

How desperate are you to get the love of your life?

Hannah is the love of Ben's life, yet Vanessa will stop at nothing to claim the man she is convinced is her destiny.

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Billed as, Women's Fiction with a psychological twist, I was excited to receive a copy of this hotly anticipated novel by Helene Fermont.  Giving the reader a full and detailed account of the love story of Hannah and Ben, starting in 1970's London and spanning the course of three decades,
Fermont creates a beautiful generational set of characters, from young Hannah, to her glamourous mother and her matriarchal and adored grand-mother (whom I have to say was probably my favourite character, I loved her aged wisdom.)

Along with the very good characters, naturally, must come some very bad.  And bad they are.  I was pleased to discover why they were so callous and heartless, the author gives us plenty of explanation as to why they act the way they do - if you are never shown real love, how can you understand what it is?

Because the timescale was so vast in this novel, it is quite a long book and I sometimes felt some of the scenes were a little superfluous to the plot, had it been cut down a little I feel the pace would have been a little speedier, which would have suited me better, but that is purely a personal preference.  In saying that, the timescale did allow the reader to really live the characters lives in detail.

I enjoyed the second half of the novel more than the first as I felt more happened to keep me gripped and wanting to turn the page rather than it just being a book I was picking up because it was very readable (which it most certainly is). I also loved the very strong Scandinavian feel all throughout the book, it was never once lost.

I very much enjoyed this coming of age novel, seeing Hannah turn from a na├»ve teenager into a determined, strong women through the story of her life.

Because of You receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


Follow the Tour

Check out other reviews by following the Because of You Tour :


The Author

Check out Helene's website : http://helenefermont.com/
Follow on Twitter : @helenefermont

Bookollective

Check out Bookollective's website : http://www.bookollective.com/
Find out about Bookollective's The B Team : http://www.bookollective.com/the-b-team/4593149838
Follow on Twitter : @Bookollective

Review also shared on : Amazon UK, Amazon US, Goodreads, Waterstones and Library Thing.





Friday, 28 October 2016

Review : A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Michael J Malone's exciting new psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.


A Suitable Lie

Publisher : Orenda Books
15 September 2016 (paperback)
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher as part of tour for honest review

The Blurb

Some secrets should never be kept…

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own.  When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Dark, a touch sadistic but utterly brilliant and heart-wrenching at the same time, Michael J Malone's psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, kept me gripped and page turning until the very end.

So much goes on within this plot it is quite exhausting, but it is so well written I flew through this book in two sittings.  Dealing with the subject of domestic violence can be difficult to read about but it seemed even more intense somehow because the stereotypical roles have been reversed, which was refreshing and a mark of genius by the author.

The subplots run alongside the main fantastically and enhances the involvement of the reader into the mind set of the main character, Andy.  Through the characters of Sheila and Malcolm, who are dealing with their own trauma's in life, Andy is able to glean strength from them. 

I was surprised at how perfectly the author cast and developed every character within this novel, from the main ones of Andy and Anna, to those mentioned in passing, for example, Malcolm's father.  As a reader I felt the author had known these people a long time.

At times when reading, I found myself clutching at my heart or head, thinking 'No!'  I wanted to jump into the page to stop or change what was happening I got so engrossed.

This book deserves the same kind of huge recognition as the likes of The Girl on the Train and I hope and expect to see it on a best-sellers list.  I can also easily envisage it as a very good three part drama or even film, it kept playing out that way in my head.

With this book shooting straight into my Top 5 of the year so far I can do nothing less that award it the highest rating and enthuse to everyone who loves a brilliant, dark, psychological thriller to get a copy of this book immediately.

I am thankful and honoured to have been part of the blog tour for this brilliant book.  Great work Michael.


Follow the Tour

Check out other reviews of A Suitable Lie by following the tour.



Monday, 24 October 2016

Review : US by David Nicholls


Published by : Hodder
7 May 2015
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchased

The Blurb

Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Dare I say, I was not a huge fan of One Day by David Nicholls, so I wasn't sure how I would get on with this novel, but I am glad to say it was very enjoyable.  I laughed out loud frequently at the directness with which the story was delivered by main character, Douglas, sensible scientist. 

Douglas speaks directly to the reader, giving us his version of his life, in what I assume is meant to be an effort at dissecting it for himself, to see where it all went 'wrong' after his wife tells him she thinks she is going to leave him.  I found Douglas a very likeable character and could often see his point of view.  I can't say I found Connie, his wife or Albie, his teenage son as endearing, but then again we were only told the story from the side of Douglas.  Even so, on occasion Douglas freely admits he can, with hindsight see mistakes he made, particularly with regard to his reaction to things during Albie's younger years, so he does indicate that perhaps Connie and Albie did put up with some trying behaviour.

As the family travels around Europe on a Grand Tour of the Art Galleries, the scenes and situations they find themselves in are equally amusing and frustrating.  Douglas has gone to great lengths to try and make the trip perfect, which of course is just a recipe for disaster, especially as he does seem to have issues with control.  Eventually of course he realises he can not control everything, especially when the people he wants to conform are artistic and ever so more free-spirited than he, but is it just too late?

I found the book very easy reading and really enjoyed the short, sharp, snappy chapters.  I also thought the degree of 'then' and 'now' was spot on.  Finding out about how Douglas and Connie had come to be a couple and the history they shared helped pixelate just how they had reached breaking point in their marriage. 

My only negative comment would be sometimes I found a little too much time was spent depicting artwork in the galleries, I felt it a little unnecessary and it didn't add anything to moving the plot along.  Having said that, I thought the descriptiveness of the countries as they were travelled through was wonderful.

I really was unsure as to where the ending would go but I think Nicholls got it bang on and the very last sentence did leave me smiling.

US by David Nicholls receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :

  



Thursday, 20 October 2016

Blog Tour : The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Agnes Ravatn's exciting new novel, The Bird Tribunal, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

The Bird Tribunal

Published by : Orenda Books
1 September 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher as part of tour and for honest review

The Blurb

Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough… Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless. 

The Very Pink Notebook Review

For the first few pages of this book I was really unsure how I would fare with it, I struggled a little with the style.  However, once I relaxed into it and let the narration take over, unhindered, I quickly became intrigued.

Although not a great deal of 'action' happens at the beginning, the two (and only) characters, Allis and Bagge, are such complex and intense people you want to find out how the simplest of things are processed in their very strange minds.  Just the day to day dance between the two is deeply immersive to the reader.  In a sense I felt I was intruding on an exceptionally long term of foreplay, even through the most mundane of day to day tasks.

Alongside this is the yearning to know the history of the characters.  We quickly ascertain Allis, a well known TV personality, has fled from the disgrace of infidelity (on her part).  It is more difficult to find out what is going on with Bagge however, because we only ever see his story through the eyes of Allis.  Allis is given glimpses of a dark side of Bagge, his mood swings, his strange dreams of The Bird Tribunal, the sly comments from the old women at the local store, but Allis only wants to believe in the gentle side she sees emerge.

I was intrigued what the title of the novel would relate to and when I did discover it I thought it was absolutely fascinating.

I also loved learning the story of Balder, which is punctuated throughout the novel and thought it was very cleverly interwoven to help enhance the story of Allis and Bagge.

If you asked me in which era this book is set I would struggle to identify it.  I felt as if it should be much older than what it is, given Allis is a TV personality and Bagge makes a comment regarding the house being over 100 years old built in 1890's, this steers it to be quite recent.  To be honest though it could probably be set at any time because both characters have chosen to remove themselves from the outside world, to create their own.

With its unusual writing style, I was inclined to use the words intriguing and fascinating a lot in the review and in summary these are the two I would use again, along with unnerving and enthralling.

This beautifully translated (Rosie Hedger) English Pen Award winning book receives :


About the Author

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist.  She made her literary debut with the novel Week 53 in 2007.  Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it.  The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2's listener's prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth Critic's Prize.  The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.

Follow the Tour

Read other reviews of The Bird Tribunal by following the tour:

 



Sunday, 16 October 2016

Review : My Husband's Wife by Amanda Prowse

My Husband's Wife: The Number 1 Bestseller (No Greater Courage)

Published by : Head of Zeus
14 July 2016
Copy : Reviewer purchased

The Blurb

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?
 

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Amanda Prowse has written yet another beautiful, moving and heartfelt novel with My Husband's Wife, making me once again think, laugh and shed a tear. 

With the most wonderful main character, Rosie Tipcott, we are taken on a true journey of the heart.  I have to say, Rosie is one of my most favourite characters from any book.  I loved her wholeheartedly.  She is so happy with her lot in life, even though she doesn't have massive riches or a fantastic glamourous job, she loves what she has and in her eyes her world is just where is should be.  How lovely and refreshing to meet anyone like that, real or fictitious!  

When the love of her life, husband and father of her two adored daughters, Phil, leaves her for a rich and highly successful women (who, of course, we hate), Rosie thinks she should question her outlook on life.  But ultimately she can't question what she loves and that was the life she had, as her husband's wife and mother to her children.  That was her dream and she achieved it.  Amanda has managed to really capture the true feelings of anguish and torment that Rosie endures in the months and all that transpires with Phil and his new mistress, with real finesse.   

Many might question why this would be enough for a person, being a wife and mother - is it realistic someone would be like that?  But Rosie didn't have that life growing up.  Her mother left when she was born and she was raised by a good and decent single parent father.  After her husband leaves, and she finds herself in receipt of a letter her mother wrote when she left, Rosie starts to see similarities in her mother and fathers relationship and her own with Phil and she is forced to re-evaluate the way she has always viewed her past, and look at her childhood more closely. 

The relationship Rosie has with her father and step-mother is an amicable one and it is quite moving how the revelation of some truths helps to rebuild it to something more between them all.  One particular gesture by her step-mother at the end of the book did actually make me cry.

Although a deeply emotion book it was never too intense or hard going and had some brilliant scenes of comedy - particularly the opening scene with her daughters, Naomi and Leona.  It has been written with a light hand and I flew through it, enjoying every minute I spent with Rosie in her world.  Even in some of the most dramatic scenes for Rosie, there was a hint of humour (I will never carry a bowl of coleslaw to a party...) and that made her even more relatable and real.  The other characters within the book were also well portrayed and I loved how some of them behaved in the complete opposite way to which I was expecting them too. 

All of this goes on in the small sea-side town of Woolacombe.  With brilliant and vivid imagery I could practically taste the salt on my lips and the wind blustering through my hair up on Rosie's bench.  I felt the location matched the character of Rosie perfectly.  Sitting snuggled in the coast line of Devon is it unassuming and content, like Rosie, and blossoms in the summer with the influx of tourists, it lighting up with excitement when it has people to entertain.  For Rosie, her world lit up whenever she was with her family, they are her tourists.  During the cold season the town still sits and waits, the beauty the same, waiting, waiting for the tourists again to arrive.       

Rosie was a character I really rooted for and I was so happy with the ending, it was a perfect fit for her.

The beautiful My Husband's Wife by Amanda Prowse receives :

    



Friday, 14 October 2016

Review : A Home in Sunset Bay by Rebecca Pugh

A Home In Sunset Bay

Published by : Carina
9 February 2016
Copy : Ebook - Reviewer purchased


The Blurb


Enough is enough! The always perfect Laurie Chapman had jumped in her car and raced as fast as she could from London heading to Sunset Bay and (she hopes!) the open arms of her estranged sister…

Mia Chapman loves running Dolly’s Diner in the picture-perfect coastal Cornish town of Sunset Bay. Now that her and Grandma Dolly’s dream is finally a reality Mia has never been prouder! Until Laurie suddenly turns up on her doorstep…

How can she forgive the sister who walked away?

Once upon a time Mia and Laurie were best friends. Back together after so long, the time has come for the sisters to figure out what went so wrong all those years ago – and whether they can ever put it right!


The Very Pink Notebook Review

This is the first of Rebecca Pugh's novels I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After a long stint of reading darker, psychological thrillers this was a welcome breath of salty Cornish sea air.  I loved the beautifully descriptive ability of Rebecca's to really capture every sense, I felt fully placed in situ of the novel.

Mainly based around the adorable, Dolly's Diner, a restaurant inherited by main character Mia, I could really envisage the place (and smells of coffee, milkshakes, fries and doughnuts) and picture the staff waiting on the tables.  More than once I found myself wishing it was a real place.

Aside from the lovely imagery within her writing, the author also gives us a beautiful story of family.  Two sisters, once so close who have grown apart and living very different lives are suddenly thrust back together when the elder sister, Laurie, runs away from the heartbreak she suffers in London.

The story explores the bonds of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, the tricky concept of parental favouritism and good old fashioned romance. 

It is a gentle tale, one by which you will want to curl up with a mug of hot sweet tea, under your softest and favourite blanket and thickest cosiest socks on a cold winters evening, and it is guaranteed to warm you through and through... and I am pretty sure this is just what the author had in mind when she wrote this.

A Home in Sunset Bay receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Review : The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech

The Mountain in My Shoe copy

Published by : Orenda
30 September 2016 (paperback)
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher for honest review

The Blurb

A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself …
On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The Mountain in my Shoe is a wonderful story focussing on relationships.  The author looks at many different relationships, good and bad in family and friends, all done with great sensitivity. 

The two main characters we meet are (adult) Bernadette and (child) Conor.  A good portion of the story is narrated by Bernadette.  Bernadette is a women who at first seems content and thrives on being a dedicated home-maker, she recalls with nostalgia her early years with her husband, Richard, but this starts alarm bells for the reader, because we can see through her descriptions she is actually living in fear and her husband clearly has a compulsive need to control her.  We discover they have been unable to have children much to both their devastation.  When Bernadette finally decides to leave Richard he fails to come home from work.

It is interesting because apart from in past context, when Bernadette is recalling a memory or when she is sharing with her friend, Anne, we never get to see Bernadette and husband, Richard, in any scenes together which helped to create the growing isolation Bernadette is feeling.  In her search for meaningful relationships Bernadette finds herself as part of a volunteer programme in which she befriends a child in care - Conor.

I loved the character of Conor.  He is eternally optimistic despite his sad and unstructured childhood.  I liked the uncomplicated and childish narration that he presented.  When it is discovered Conor has failed to return from school, the reader is kept in the know about what is going on through Conor's version of events but kept in the dark enough that we are not told until the end if the two disappearances of Richard and Conor are linked. 

The combination of the two narrators keep the pace of the book moving along keenly.  Added to this we also get to read documents from Conor's lifebook, which gives a rich and varied account of Conor's history from various people who have been a part of his life, including his mother.  It was a unique way of building up a portrait of a character and I really enjoyed it.

The author makes good use of the surrounding to represent the characters too.  Bernadette lives in a cold, soul-less, unappealing home, she mentions this many times, and this it transpires is the life she has been living.

Although I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat with the thriller element, it kept me gripped and engaged enough.  It was the two beautifully developed characters that drew me in - I felt real warmth and affection for them. 

The Mountain in my Shoe receives :

Many thanks to Karen at Orenda for an advance copy of the book

    

 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Review : Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Published by : Atlantic Books
1 January 2013
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchase

The Blurb

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

I didn't really know anything about this book until a trailer for the film caught my eye.  As per my usual rule, I will not watch the film until I have read the book and for this one in particular I am glad I stuck to it.

Wild, is a poignant, gritty and ultimately uplifting memoir from American, Cheryl Strayed.  The book has been written by Cheryl herself with the aid of her notes from the hike and the memories to which she holds dear.  I loved this book, it is a real warts and all account.  She does not try and hide the complete and utter devastation she suffered or caused.  She in no way tries to glamourise or legitimise anything that was done to her or she did to others and this made me have a lot of respect for this author. 

The book, I felt, has been written with real clarity from a hindsight perspective, which for the sake of the memoir is a good thing.  She has picked out and sewn together a brilliant, flowing and logical account of what happened, both within her life prior to, and on the actual months of hiking the PCT.

I relished meeting the colourful (and not so colourful) characters on her journey, the vivid (but not boring) descriptions of her landscapes and the equally amazing and dire conditions she found herself experiencing on this, her journey of a life time.  Often I found myself desperate to read on just to know she made it to her next postal point so she could collect her next box of supplies.

This is a book about not quitting.  About not listening to those who think you can't do something.  It's about the amazing things our bodies and minds can be pushed to do, when we think it would never be possible in a million years.  Would I want to do the things Cheryl did in order to get to this point in her life where she needed such clarity?  Never.  But will I ever think I can't do that again?  Not so much.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed receives a Very Pink Notebook ...







 


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Review : If I Forget You by T.C.Greene


If I Forget You (Paperback)
Published by : Corvus - Atlantic Books Ltd
01 September 2016
Copy - Paperback - Received from Atlantic Books in exchange for honest review

The Blurb

When Margot and Henry meet, they fall deeply in love.  And then they lose each other.

But Henry can't forget Margot and Margot is haunted by her memories of Henry. They live in each other's minds.

Twenty-one years later, they meet, by chance, on a Manhattan street. And that's where their story truly begins...

If I Forget You is a beautiful exploration of what it means to find the person you are destined to be with, but then spend a lifetime apart


The Very Pink Notebook Review

When any book lands on my doorstep and has the beautiful New York skyline on its cover I am always going to be excited to read it.  If I Forget You did not disappoint me.  A story centred solely on the love story of Margot and Henry, it was gentle but not kitsch. 

T. C. Greene has written in present tense, which puts the reader really up close and personal with the two characters and as I read further along I became more and more involved with them, entangled in their rush of emotions.  The story starts in the present day, when a chance encounter between the two stirs up so much emotion in them it just can not be left.  We are then given chapters, interchanging between past and present, from both points of view - which I liked very much - and we discover the delicious history the two have together.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the plot.  As I read I thought the book was just going to tell of the love story, a pattern of longing and circumstance, so was quite pleased with the twist in the tale at the end.

I have to say, I loved Henry, but did not care so much for Margot, but I think this is what made it a captivating love story rather than a cringe-worthy one.  I liked that they were flawed characters and the realism that sometimes 'real life' does get in the way of love. 

Beautiful prose paired with exceptional and vivid imagery of New York I thoroughly enjoyed getting embroiled in the world of Henry and Margot, and their love story.

If I Forget You receives a hearty :




With much thanks to Alison at Atlantic Books for a review copy of this book



Friday, 23 September 2016

Review : Another Love by Amanda Prowse

Another Love

Published by : Head of Zeus
01 April 2016
Copy : Hardback - Reviewer purchase

The Blurb

In the early years, she was happy. Romilly had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol's most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her kind and handsome husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting - but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn't fix. But then, as deep-buried insecurities surfaced, everything started to unravel. A glass of wine became a bottle; one bottle became two. Once, Romilly's family were everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love...

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Amanda's statement 'I write stories for women about women.' was what first drew me to her books.  I am yet to be disappointed in reading one of her novels because that statement could not be more true.  Whenever a new Amanda Prowse book comes out I can not wait to find out what thread the story is going to weave around, but one thing is always guaranteed; it is going to be emotional.  Another Love is no different.

Focusing on the world of Romilly, her husband David and daughter Celeste I immediately loved this family.  Amanda has created a family we all know, they are in love, they work hard in their professional careers to provide a beautiful home and a stable life to their much loved child, daughter Celeste.  But, as with most relationships, you never know what really goes on behind closed doors.

Romilly has an addiction, one that waggles itself underneath the noses of so many on a daily basis but that they control.  But for Romilly that addiction slowly turns itself into an illness, it snakes inside of her and takes hold so tightly she gives herself up to it - Romilly is an alcoholic.

This novel takes us through the torrent of emotions of being an alcoholic, via Romilly's narration and also on the flip side through what it is like for those who find themselves living in a home with someone who has an addiction - in this case via daughter Celeste.  I loved the chapters being written from the two viewpoints, even though sometimes it did leave me quite emotionally drained.

It was quite alarming, how Romilly's addiction grew from simple and to be honest quite, run of the mill, random binge drink sessions in University (I think the majority of drinkers have all done that in the past), to the glass of wine looked forward to at the end of the work day with dinner.  How quickly the glass turned to half a bottle and then a bottle.  How the drink with dinner turned into a little afternoon tipple.  I felt sad at those people in Romilly's life who thought it was all fun and games to encourage her to drink, really for their own amusement - whether they realised or not they were pushing her further into alcoholism I am not sure.

I didn't know how far into this illness Romilly would find herself, but Amanda has not held back and we are taken as far as we can go, I am sure all screaming for her to stop in our head, but knowing and understanding that she will not.  I like that Amanda did not do it by halves, it made it feel all the more real, which is one of this authors real talents as a writer, she is not afraid, she does not hold back.  The characters are flawed and those flaws are the basis for her brilliant novels.

I liked that the alcoholic in this novel was Romilly and not David.  It would have been easy to have made the female the one left picking up the pieces, fighting to keep the family together, to keep her daughter shielded.  It was - I think - a fresh take, a more unique story this way.  Another Love is a perfect title for this novel.

As a big fan of Amanda Prowse and her work I am always a little tentative when starting a new novel, hoping it will be as good as previous.  There was no disappointment with this book.

Another Love gets a Very Pink Notebook rating of :







Monday, 19 September 2016

Review : I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You (Hardback)

Published : 28 July 2016
By : Sphere
Copy : Hardback - Reviewer Purchase

The Blurb

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Clare Mackintosh gave us a killer debut novel with I Let You Go, so I was thrilled to discover a second book was to follow with relative speed.  As most fans of I Let You Go, I wondered how the author would deal with second book syndrome and I have to say, pretty damn well.

I was lucky enough to be present at an event with the author earlier in the year, where she read us the first chapter of I See You, leaving the audience salivating after just a few minutes.  And that is how I felt at the end of almost every chapter.  It gripped every part of my imagination, it made me feel uneasy - how true our weakness for 'routine' in our lives is and how this can make us so very vulnerable, I could not stop turning the pages. 

Based on main character Zoe, we are entered into a dirty underworld whereby women's identities are literally put up for sale - but not to their knowledge.  When Zoe sees a picture of herself in an advert she has no clue as to why but with steely determination to discover why, we are taken on a journey which puts everyone as a potential suspect in the web she slowly unravels. 

Along with her on this journey is Kelly, a somewhat disgraced Police Officer who has been put on Neighbourhood Policing but is itching to get back into more serious crime.  She comes across Zoe's call by chance and with nothing to go on but gut instinct she also suspects something more sinister is going on than meets the eye.  Eventually she manages to get assigned to the case with DI Rampello and I enjoyed the pairing of the two officers.

Kelly also has an interesting back story of her own, which gave a good interlude to the main plot.  It demonstrates she isn't always inclined to play by the book, which, when everyone else is doubting Zoe and her version of events, Zoe finds she really needs.

Again, what I love about Clare Mackintosh as a writer is she does not bog you down in police procedure, but gives you just enough to keep you engaged and flying along the plot with speed.  It must be one of the hardest things as a writer, to get that balance right. 

For the most part the story is seen from the eyes of Zoe and the police team, but sporadically we hear another voice.  The voice of the perpetrator.  Menacing and cold it sent chills down my spine and I had absolutely no clue who that person was until it was revealed right at the very end.  It left me very unsettled, a sure sign of a good book.

This is another complex novel which Clare Mackintosh has managed to deliver so it is both thrilling and effortless to read.  I couldn't get enough of it and I am already on tenterhooks for book number three!

I See You gets a Very Pink Notebook rating of :