#BlogTour The Wife Next Door – Amanda Brooke

Jane doesn’t know her new neighbours very well.

But she thought they were nice. She thought they were happy.


She was wrong.


First there’s the explosive rows. Then she catches one of them digging a grave- shaped trench in the garden.


When the truth emerges, someone would kill to cover their tracks…

Well hasn’t January just flown in!? Apologies for the short hiatus but I’m glad to be back again and bringing you some reviews for some great reads to check out. I’m starting with The Wife Next Door by Amanda Brooke. This is a chilling read which had me feeling really quite tense for the majority of the story. It’s a book where giving away too much about the storyline might affect how you feel as you read, not in a negative way, just that some storylines need you to follow the path without knowing what is coming up ahead.

Jane is recently bereaved and is faced with the task of clearing her childhood home and getting it ready for sale. She has mixed feelings; desperately missing her mum and the happy times but some memories are soured by traumatic events. Her husband doesn’t really understand and sees the process as more of a formality and a series of boxes to be ticked. Jane needs more time to get her head around everything so stays on. Spending time alone makes her more attuned to what is going on around her and soon her neighbours come to her attention. They seem deeply unhappy and Jane is really worried about their relationship but as an outsider there is little she can do except offer a supportive ear and a kind face and hope that they can move past their difficulties one way or another.

The Wife Next Door is an uncomfortable yet gripping read. There’s a sense of threat which weaves through the story leaving you as the reader never quite sure what might happen next; needing to know but being fearful of what might be coming. The story is told most in the present but we do see some flashbacks to Jane’s childhood and get to meet her parents and best friend. I like having these chapters to add some extra colour and depth to the events which unfold.

This is a story for thriller fans, it will have your heart racing and your mind whirring from the beginning!

About The Wife Next Door:

A note from Amanda: ‘The Wife Next Door stemmed from an experience with my old
neighbours, who lived behind us. One day, they unexpectedly chopped down a
tree. They got more sun and I got an uninterrupted view of their house from my
bedroom. I didn’t want to snoop, but like my main character, Jane, sometimes you
can’t help but notice what’s going on in your neighbours’ lives, and your
imagination fills in the gaps. I miss that tree, and you could say my latest novel is my
revenge for it being cut down…’

About Amanda Brooke: Amanda Brooke is an internationally bestselling author. Her debut novel, Yesterday’s Sun, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and since then she has written eleven further books. Amanda lives in Merseyside with a cat called Spider, a dog called Mouse, and a laptop within easy reach.

#BlogTour The Things That We Lost – Jyoti Patel

This moving coming of age story explores what it means to be a person of colour in Britain today, discussing themes of identity and the stories that we tell ourselves to manage trauma.

Nik yearns to know more about his father, who died before he was born. His mother, Avani, held hostage by her guilt surrounding his death, refuses to share any information with her son. Nik is forced to create a fragmented image of his father, pulled together from hushed whispers at family gatherings and photos stolen from his mother’s bedroom.


When his grandfather dies, secrets are revealed, and everything Nik thinks he knows about his father is turned on its head. Nik makes it his mission to discover the truth about his father and the circumstances of his death, uncovering painful truths in the process.


The Things That We Lost is a beautifully tender exploration of family, loss, and the lengths we go to, to protect the ones we love.

Every year I think that surely we must have peaked with brilliant debuts and this year will be good but not exceptional, but yet again I have been blown away by some absolutely fantastic reads. The most recent of these is The Things That We Lost by Jyoti Patel. This story ticks so many boxes for me – an interesting family with secrets lurking in the past, multiple timelines and beautiful writing making me feel connected to the characters and really care about what happened.

In the prologue we meet Avani at university. Life is good studying alongside her boyfriend and best friend; things are slotting into place. Fast forward and we are introduced to Nik, Avani’s son. He is at a similar transition point in his life and getting ready to fly the nest and begin his own university journey. Sadly for the family, Avani’s father is dying. Nik and he were very close and his death hits him hard. Before he passes, Nik is secretly given a key but without any further information, not even to the lock it should open, he doesn’t quite know what to do with it. He knows it must hide information that may upset his mother as the conversation dries up quickly when she arrives. As with many families, there are things that are not spoken about, but perhaps somewhat unusually, one of these things is his father. Nik knows nothing of his father’s life or the relationship between his parents. For the early years of his life he had a step-father but their relationship drifted so it is very much just Nik and Avani. There are family tensions which are strained further around the time of the funeral but life continues in a suspended state until some paperwork appears which changes everything.

I truly loved The Things That We Lost. The characters come alive on the page and their life and struggles are written beautifully. I genuinely wanted to know more about them and to follow their stories both in the present but learning about their pasts. There are definitely some difficult topics within and I think that Jyoti has struck a very good balance in bringing sensitive and upsetting themes to the page in a way which adds to the story and enriches it, making it real not overdone. The focus on relationships really connected with me. Although I do not have a son, I really liked the exploration of the mother son relationship. I feel like I read more mother daughter books, not that I am complaining at all merely an observation, so this was a little change in pace.

The Things That We Lost is a great choice for readers who like character driven stories. As mentioned there are some uncomfortable topics which bring more depth to the book. I would highly recommend The Things That We Lost as an absorbing, well rounded read.

About Jyoti Patel: Jyoti Patel was born in Paris to British Indian parents and grew up in North West London. She is a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Prose Fiction MA and winner of the 2021 #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize. Her writing has previously been published as part of We Present’s ‘Literally’ series and in the anthology for the 2022 Bristol Short Story Prize, for which she was shortlisted. The Things That We Lost is her debut novel.
You can find her on Social Media: Twitter @Jyoti__Patel and Instagram @jyotisbooks

#BlogTour Lost and Found – James Gould-Bourn

Ronnie has resigned himself to a life of loneliness.
 
His life in the crumbling seaside town of Bingham-on-Sea never seemed that bad, but since the loss of his father, the highlights of Ronnie’s solitary days include manning the lost property office at the bus station where he works, andplaguing his local GP with increasingly outlandish ailments. Forgotten orunderestimated by all those around him, Ronnie is lost, and he’s not expecting to be found.
 
But when a chance encounter leads Ronnie to reluctantly foster Hamlet, an unwanted stray dog, his empty days begin to fill with all manner of new responsibilities and experiences.
 
Can these two lost souls help each other to find a new lease of life?

If you are looking for a read to lift your spirits, make you laugh and take you on an emotional journey then Lost and Found might just be the book you are looking for. It can be a bit tricky deciding what to read as the new year begins. Winter and Christmas themes can feel a bit out of place once January rolls around and sometimes what you need is something gentle and soothing at what can be a strange part of the year.

Lost and Found features Ronnie, a lonely man who has sort of lost his way in life and isn’t really sure where he is going. He works in the bus station and has been given the task of sorting the lost property, really getting rid of it, and this process takes him to various charity shops and a local animal shelter. Whilst there he meets Hamlet, a no-hoper of a dog who is passed over again and again. Ronnie doesn’t want a dog, however that is besides the point and somehow he finds himself looking after Hamlet thanks to a very enthusiastic, no nonsense taking, volunteer. As a pair life gets more interesting and finds colour and zest where previously these were lacking.

Lost and Found does a lovely job of mixing humour and emotion alongside everyday life. Some aspects of Ronnie’s life particularly stood out to me. His father was instrumental in his upbringing and as someone who was raised by her father for much of her early childhood, I felt an affinity with him. Of course there were many differences but I really did feel for him and understood some of the confusion he faced as a child.

Ronnie has some hilarious encounters and the scenes were tremendously well depicted. I very much enjoyed many the individuals he encountered and how vibrantly they were described. There’s a real knack and skill in the writing for making commonplace exchanges so funny and yet so oddly relatable. You could very easily watch them playing out in your minds eye.

I think Lost and Found is an excellent tonic and means of escapism wrapped up in a lovely read. There is mirth but also sorrow and the combination is nicely balanced in a way that left me feeling both moved and also joyful. I great choice for your next book!

About James Gould-Bourn: James Gould-Bourn is a novelist and screenwriter from Manchester, England. After several years working for landmine removal organisations in Africa and the Middle East, he decided to enrol on the Faber Academy’s six-month Write a Novel course in London. His debut novel, Keeping Mum, was published in 2020.

#Review Promise Me – Jill Mansell

“One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has to start over.

The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn’t intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.

Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn’t recovered from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction – and luckily one’s about to turn up.

Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead…”

January 2023 continues to bring us joyful books and the next one I want to talk about is Promise Me by Jill Mansell. I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy at the end of 2022 and thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in over the Christmas holidays. Promise Me is set in Foxwell, a small village where everyone knows everyone, outsiders cause a stir and trying to keep secrets is almost an impossibility. We get to know a small and, mainly, delightful set of characters as relationships form, careers change and hearts soften.

Lou is the main character and she is absolutely lush. Caring in nature and always looking for the best in everyone, she finds herself bumping into Edgar and becoming a large part of his life. Whilst many would, and indeed some have, run a mile at the very idea of spending time with him, Lou wants to help him when he seems to have lost the ability to help himself. She has friends close by and spending more time with them helps her heal after a traumatic few years. Some have had more success in love and life than others, but regardless of their standing, Lou is there to be a friend and cheerleader to anyone who needs her. She is a perfect contrast to Edgar who rages against the world and is happiest when unhappy and complaining. If anyone will be able to break down his barriers and see the best part of him it is Lou.

Throughout the book there are various themes touched upon and examined, many uplifting but a few are a little darker but these work well to balance the story. Coming from a small village, admittedly a little larger than Foxwell but still relatively small, I could really relate to the community feel and it made me a little nostalgic for aspects of my childhood. Life is somewhat different for many but I envy the close-knit and community spirit which still exists in places like this as the world continues ballooning.

Promise Me is a genuinely heartwarming read which is an ideal break from the chaos of the outside world. It is easy to get engrossed in the storyline and feel a part of Foxwell. Plenty happens within the story but it is never rushed or jumpy. I found it to be a very soothing read to take me into the New Year. I’d recommend Promise Me for readers who want something comforting, heartfelt and fun.

About Jill Mansell: Jill Mansell started writing fiction while working in the NHS, after she read a magazine article that inspired her to join a local creative writing class. She has since written over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers, including And Now You’re Back, It Started With A Secret, Maybe This Time, This Could Change Everything, The One You Really Want and You And Me, Always, and her books have sold over 13 million copies around the world. Jill’s hobbies include buying stationery, particularly magical new colours of ink for the fountain pen she uses to write all her books. She lives in Bristol with her family.

You can find out more about Jill on her website: https://jillmansell.co.uk

Or on social media:

Twitter @JillMansell
Facebook: /OfficialJillMansell
Instagram: @jillmansell

#Review Amazing Grace Adams – Fran Littlewood

Grace Adams is one bad day away from saving her life.

One hot summer day, stuck in traffic on her way to pick up the cake for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday party, Grace Adams snaps.

She doesn’t scream or break something or cry. She simply abandons her car and walks away.

But not from her life – towards it. To the daughter who won’t live with her anymore and has banned her from the party. To the husband divorcing her. Towards the terrible thing that has blown their family apart . . .

Today she’ll show her daughter that no matter how far we fall we can always get back up again. Because Grace Adams was amazing. Her husband and daughter once thought so. They and the world might have forgotten.

But Grace is about to remind them . . .
__________

Amazing Grace Adams tells the story of a life, a marriage, a family, set against a single north-London day. A rollercoaster ride of redemption and discovery, it’s a powerful celebration of womanhood.

It’s always a difficult choice selecting a book to read when travelling. There’s the worry that you might not get into it, you might not love it or it might not be the right length. I much much prefer a physical book so where possible will always select one (ok several) to take with me wherever I go. On my trip to Lapland I decided that Grace Adams would accompany me and oh how glad I was that she did!

Grace Adams is having a day where her last nerve has been worked. Stuck in traffic in the stifling heat she finally has had enough of absolutely everything and decides that she will continue her journey on foot. As she walks we dip in and out of her past and find out what has been going on in the recent past as well as the key events from years ago. We build a picture of Grace, who she once was and how she has become the woman who now lives alone, estranged from her daughter and ex-husband.

Grace’s daughter Lotte is turning sixteen. Her teenage years have been a challenge with Grace trying very hard to remain a relevant part of her life but frequently being met with eye rolls and general indifference. She wants to encourage and support Lotte but it isn’t easy. We see the mother daughter relationship at different points over the years and it struck a real cord with me as a mother to a young daughter. This isn’t to at all suggest you wouldn’t find it moving if you are not a caregiver or have sons, simply a comment that it particularly connected for me.

I can’t talk about some of the events in the book because I really don’t want to spoil things for future readers. I can say that I have never worked so hard not to cry in public as I did during certain chapters but also that I snorted with mirth at some other sections. It is cleverly written and brings the reader along on the walk with Grace and puts you in her shoes.

I realise this is only my second review of the year but this is certain to be in my top 2023 reads and will also be one I shout about to anyone who enjoys reading! Get yourselves a copy and fall in love with Grace for she truly is amazing!

About Fran Littlewood: Fran Littlewood has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She was taught by Andrew Motion and passed with distinction. Before that she worked as a journalist, including a stint at The Times. She lives in north London with her husband and their three girls. AMAZING GRACE ADAMS is her debut novel.

You can find her on Twitter @_franlittlewood

#Review We All Want Impossible Things – Catherine Newman

Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self? Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’

So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.

For fans of Nora Ephron and Sorrow & BlissWe All Want Impossible Things is a deeply moving, jubilant celebration of life and friendship at its imperfect, radiant, and irreverent best.

Welcome to 2023 everyone! I have been so excited to share this review. We All Want Impossible Things is sure to be one of my very top reads of 2023 and is most definitely a book I will be recommending to anyone who will listen. It is one of those stories that genuinely grabs you and burrows into your heart and remains. As you’ll see from the blurb, this is the story of Ash and Edi, two women with a friendship that is almost as long as their lives and has taken them through highs and lows but now is reaching a devastating ending. Edi is in a hospice and Ash is supporting Edi through the final stage of her life whilst trying to make some sense of her own. Ash is struggling, doing her best, but struggling.

The friendship between Edi and Ash is a special one, and one that I don’t think many people ever truly experience. All too often life gets in the way and whilst there’s often good intention, people can drift apart. I adored seeing the little looks at events from their past and seeing how these have shaped their relationship.

The writing in this story is exquisite – there are times where I have wanted to (but I don’t write in books so haven’t) highlight sentences and paragraphs and store to return to. So often Catherine writes something which made me go ‘THIS, one hundred percent this.’ Her use of language is wonderful and so many emotions are evoked whilst reading her words. I had a lump in my throat through many parts of this story and needed some tissues more than one. But there were plenty of parts where I laughed and felt joy whilst reading. It is a true emotional rollercoaster in the very best possible way.

If you want a story to draw you in, grab your heart and connect you to some fabulous characters then this is the story for you. This book is everything. Truly everything.

About Catherine Newman: Catherine Newman is the author of the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy, and the bestselling children’s book How to be a Person. She writes the etiquette column for Real Simplemagazine, and is a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents magazine, and many other publications. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.

You can find her on Twitter @CatheriNewman and Instagram @catherinewman

#BlogTour Nobody But Us – Laure Van Rensburg

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor. Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from prying eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.
Except that he’s not who he says he is. But then again, neither is she…

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this incredible book earlier in the year and posted a little review at the time. I’m so happy to also be on the paperback #blogtour and to get to shout about Nobody But Us again. I’ve copied my previous thoughts below but wanted to really emphasis just how amazing this story is. The writing is just so sharp and really builds into a suspenseful, can’t put down for even a loo break, leave you breathless read. This is a must read for thriller fans and a blistering debut – this is an author I’ll be eagerly awaiting more from.

“Goodness me – this is an absolutely brilliant read. Incredibly tense and genuinely felt my heart racing as I read and found myself holding my breath on more than one occasion. This is most definitely a book where you really do not want to know more than the barest of bones of the detail before you jump in. So I will tell you what you already know – we meet Ellie and Steven as they embark on a romantic long weekend away together. They seem so blissfully happy but appearances can deceive and perhaps neither is entirely honest about their background. Over the weekend many shocking truths will emerge.

I think this is such an amazing debut – sharp writing, dramatic, suspenseful and absolutely intoxicating. WOW!”

About Laure Van Rensburg: Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award. Nobody But Us is her first novel. http://www.laurevanrensburg.com | Twitter: @Laure0901 | Instagram: @Laurevanrensburg

#BlogTour Dashboard Elvis is Dead – David F. Ross

“Renowned photo-journalist Jude Montgomery arrives in Glasgow in 2014, in the wake of the failed Scottish independence referendum, and it’s clear that she’s searching for someone.

Is it Anna Mason, who will go on to lead the country as First Minister? Jamie Hewitt, guitarist from eighties one-hit wonders The Hyptones? Or is it Rabbit – Jude’s estranged foster sister, now a world-famous artist?

Three apparently unconnected people, who share a devastating secret, whose lives were forever changed by one traumatic night in Phoenix, forty years earlier…

Taking us back to a school shooting in her Texas hometown, and a 1980s road trip across the American West – to San Francisco and on to New York – Jude’s search ends in Glasgow, and a final, shocking event that only one person can fully explain…”

Wow we are hurtling though 2022 but what better way to round off the year than with another brilliant book from the wonderful Orenda team! Dashboard Elvia is Dead is the latest story from David F. Ross and it’s a book that will truly burrow under your skin and sit with you. We go on a journey from Glasgow to America and back tracking Jude and Jamie through key points in their lives. I had a real sense of melancholy as I read. There are some very sad moments from the start of the story and these stuck with me as I read.

Jude doesn’t have it easy at all. Her family life is complicated and she sort of retreats into herself in school until she meets AJ. Then tragedy strikes and Jude has to go her own way once more but this time with her heart much heavier with new grief to bear. When she leaves home she seems to be in a limbo of sorts; unable to stay, unprepared to really leave. I can’t quite explain why but I felt really connected with Jude and her struggles. I suspect that’s because of how well she was depicted and written!

Jamie is a rising star, off to the states to make a name for himself with his band. Armed with half a plan and a lot of enthusiasm they reach New York and get to work making contacts and hunting out opportunity. There is a fair bit of tension when everything they’d hoped for doesn’t just fall into place. Emotions run high and an unexpected sequence of events during a gig changes Jamie’s plans and those of the band. I thoroughly enjoyed the chaos and roughness of this aspect to the story. It’s raw and unfiltered and excellently told.

The story as a whole is a rich and descriptive read which really brings the reader along on the journey. I loved getting to see events from Jude and Jamie’s perspectives. I particularly loved how the Scottish characters are written as they speak (I’m sure there is a more elegant way to say this but I can’t think of the proper term). I can’t really explain why but it makes me feel like I’m really hearing them and properly there watching. Whilst a fictional story, there are aspects which tie into reality and this again made me feel somehow involved and it’s not just a story but real lives. Like I said at the beginning, there is a real sense of sadness which runs through the storylines. I do feel quite emotional even now just musing upon what I’ve read. A great book, check it out!

About David F. Ross: David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social-media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and optioned for the stage by the Scottish National Theatre. All five of his novels have achieved notable critical acclaim and There’s Only One Danny Garvey, published in 2021 by Orenda Books, was shortlisted for the prestigious Saltire Society Prize for Scottish Fiction Book of the Year. David lives in Ayrshire.

#BlogTour Disobedient Women – Sangeeta Mulay

“Set in contemporary India, Sangeeta Mulay’s unforgettable debut novel is a compelling story of four unforgettable characters:
Aparna – a courageous campaigner of rationality and freedom of expression. Will the
patriarchal grip of a religious society manage to silence her?

Hari – the passionate founder of a religious organisation. As Hari becomes a rising star for the local Hindu right-wing, will he lose himself?
Naseem – Aparna’s wise daughter who is discovering her sexuality. Will she have the strength to stand up for her mother against societal stigma?
Kashi – Hari’s daughter who is in love with science and…girls? Confused about her sexuality, will she be able to lead life on her own terms?
Confronting issues of religion, bigotry, sex and politics, DISOBEDIENT WOMEN tells the interwoven stories of two families and their battle of ideologies. A novel of the choices women make under pressure, where to be disobedient is the only
option that offers change.”

Disobedient Women is a brilliant story which takes many of the thorny issues of modern life and weaves them together very cleverly in a fabulously engrossing read. I think I probably should start my review by mentioning that although this story is set in India and the main religion featured is Hindu, I think the themes of the story could be applied to any of the major religions, what with there being fanatical members of all, and so by telling you how much I liked this book, I am NOT disrespectful of anyones faith or lack thereof! I also wouldn’t want anyone to feel that the religious themes should put them off, they are a key feature but as a springboard to other key issues which I think need to be discussed such as sexism, feminism, sexuality, and family relationships.

I was drawn to this book as it was described as a feminist read, but also that it was set in a state (Maharashtra) of India where I have spent sometime volunteering in the past and, having had such a wonderful experience there, I feel an affinity for. The story is divided into five parts, and focus on the lives of Aparna, Hari, Haseem and Kashi. I thought they were all very well thought out and presented. Aparna is an absolute hero, she is a women who refuses to accept that life has to be lived as tradition dictates and speaks out for the rights of women and those without religious affiliation. Somewhat unusually, she has a husband who is generally supportive of her belief and actions and takes on more household tasks than many other husbands would. This leads him to be mocked and looked down on at times but he stands firm by his wife, although fears for her safety. Aparna is principled and I really admired her commitment even when times got very tough. Her daughter Naseem has been raised to know her worth and not to be cowed by expectations of others. But this is hard. Although her family is progressive, it’s not easy when old fashioned views are the norm. Being a teenager is hard no matter where you live so navigating growing up whilst being judged for her outspoken mother is a line which is hard to walk and is confusing and at times mortifying.

Hari is almost the polar opposite of Aparna in every way. He had a religious upbringing and found it hard to be around those who had more secular views and ways of life, feeling an outsider. He desires order and return to more traditional values, thus finds Aparna absolutely abhorrent. When his religious group starts growing in size and popularity he finds that achieving some of his goals might actually be within his grasp, but at a terrifying cost. Hari’s daughter Kashi does not look like she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. She has a mind which questions everything, from the way the planet works to the teachings and diktats from her upbringing. She loves her parents but doesn’t necessarily like them. As with Naseem, it is hard for her to work out how to align who she is with her upbringing and the expectations placed upon her. She is courageous and thoughtful and I thought she was excellent.

The story covers some themes which may be distressing to read including sexual assault but nothing is described in very graphic detail so as to make it excessively difficult for the reader. I thought the balance between the different characters was excellent and I could quite happily have read another several hundred pages to spend more time and find out more about them. This would make a great book club choice as there is a lot to discuss, much more than I could include in a review. I think this was an excellent book and I hope to read more from Sangeeta in the future!

About Sangeeta Mulay: Sangeeta Mulay was born in Pune in India and now currently works in London as a UX writer. She received an honourable mention in the 2021 NYC midnight micro-fiction challenge. Her book for young adults, ‘Savitribai Phule and I’ was a notable book of 2020 for The Bombay Review. She has also had a short story highly commended in the Sydney Hammond short story competition. Another of Mulay’s short stories will be published in a 2022 Fox and Windmill anthology. 

#BlogTour Speedy Sophie – Nina Mroue

“Sophie was a special little girl who would run everywhere. As soon as she would wake up in the morning, she would put on her magical running shoes and she would run.”

Before I sat down to write this post, I told my five year old what I was going to do and she said “ooo mummy, are you going to tell the internet that I LOVED THIS BOOK!?” Well, yes, that’s exactly what I am going to do!

Sophie is a little girl who runs and runs and runs, never taking time to do anything but run until disaster strikes and she outgrows her trainers. Forced to walk, she gets the opportunity to look more closely at places she would speed past, and in doing so realises that perhaps there is more to life than simply running.

My daughter is five and she gives Speedy Sophie a double thumbs up, which is her highest rating on the ‘what do you think’ scale. Her very favourite parts of the story were the places Sophie visits and getting to spot where the bird is on every page, and what it is doing. I think this story is a great one for young readers, the language is simple but not babyish, the story is short but detailed and the illustrations are lovely. It sends a nice message about taking some time to look around you and finding the wonder in everyday things. The little bird who follows her is sweet and adds a nice little game as you read. If you’re on the look out for a bookish gift or a stocking filler for an early years child then I think this would be a great choice.

About Nina Mroue: Nina Mroue is a mum of 2, based in London. Nina has always had a passion for writing and gets motivation for her stories from her two little girls, her main source of inspiration. Nina is a firm believer that children can change the world. Through her stories, Nina hopes to instil positive messages to the younger generation. The topics closest to her heart are mindfulness and taking care of the planet.

Available at Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Foyles Bookshop, Blackwells and Brown Dog Bookshop