Synopsis

When Tom wakes up to a note from his girlfriend Hayley saying that she has left but not left him, Tom’s life is thrown into turmoil. With only a small suitcase of her belongings gone, Tom is left in limbo. He tries to carry on as normal but when he hears a strange message on his answer phone from the mysterious Andy mentioning “the place” Tom becomes determined to solve the mystery of Hayley’s departure.

What ensues is a series of wacky misadventures, growing friendships and dare I say it – personal growth.

Review

I have been toying with the idea of reading a book by Danny Wallace for a while. I have purchased a few and they sit on my shelf, tentatively and patiently waiting to be picked up and read. However, it was due to my desire to get my NetGalley percentage up that made me read Who Is Tom Ditto? Sorry Danny.

I’m awfully glad that I did read Who Is Tom Ditto? It is sharp, witty and a little bit bonkers. It is honestly like no book I have ever read before. The storyline came way out of left field. It has also made me a little curious as to whether there actually is a pocket of people who actually do follow people about. I will try to be a lot more aware of folks around me from now on.

Tom, bless him, was just a victim of circumstance. A too trusting guy who was dealt a massive bow by his girlfriend and it was endearing to watch him try to hold his life together and figure out what was going on in his life. The cast of characters around him all added to the story in colourful and interesting ways.

Strangely, even though the book tied everything up neatly at the end – which those of you who read my reviews know is often times my biggest bugbear – I really liked that there were no loose ends in Who Is Tom Ditto? Heroes became heroic and villains got there comeuppance.

One of the highest accolades I can give this book is that I read it in one sitting. I didn’t want to put it down. Danny Wallace has a new fan in Lisa Bentley. I will most definitely be pushing his other fictional work – Charlotte Street – higher up my personal TBR pile.

Who Is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace is available now.

Who is tom ditto

You can follow Danny Wallace on Twitter @dannywallace

Synopsis

Annie Howarth seems to have it all; loving husband, beautiful daughter and a house to be proud of but Annie also has a dirty not so secret past. She was once involved with a man accused of murder. And when her former lover, Tom Greenwood, is released from his 10 year prison sentence, Annie’s past comes back to haunt her.

Review

Firstly, I have to say that this book is extremely well written. Louise Douglas has captured a moment in history – the miner’s strike in Yorkshire during the 1980s with haunting accuracy. Her descriptions of the moors are both evocative and atmospheric. She cleverly toils with the thin line that separates right from wrong. Her overall style cannot be faulted.

However, I found that I could not empathise with her protagonist. Understandably, Annie Howarth was a victim of the actions of those around her; from her lover Tom Greenaway and how his actions led her to be left alone to the oppressive and overbearing nature of her policeman husband who smothered her. And whilst this character was layered with many complexities such as where her loyalties should lie – with her policeman husband during the miner’s riots, with her working class family who were striking or with Tom, the love of her life who she believes was wrongly accused all those years ago – I personally found it difficult to feel any sympathy for her situation.

As I have said, that is not to say that this isn’t a good, intriguing mystery that is written very well it just didn’t enthuse a love of character that I was expecting from Louise Douglas.

Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas is available now.

louise douglas your beautiful lies

 

Russian born Alena has decided to leave her country to come to the UK to find work. Like many migrants, Alena believes that the answer to hers and her family’s financial woes lies in the opportunity laden London. Having had her work placement set up by a family friend Alena travels to the UK full of optimism and dreams of a better life that includes financial stability, opportunity and designer clothes. What Alena isn’t prepared for is that her dream is a fallacy. Nor is she prepared for her dream to become a nightmare.

Someone well versed in the woes of everyday life in the UK is Dave. Dave is trying to get through each day under the radar; just do his job, get paid and go home. This is a rigmarole that suits the quiet life that he craves. He once had dreams of travel but all that has passed now. However, a chance encounter with Alena throws his world completely off kilter.

Can Dave’s peaceful nature quiet and calm the storm that is Alena’s life?

I won’t lie to you Thirst is a hard novel to read. Not because it is composed of difficult vernacular or in a different language but purely because Kerry Hudson gives the full nitty gritty on a dark and sinister topic; that topic being human trafficking and having immigrants being sold into the sex trade. At times I felt as if my heart was literally breaking for Alena. What made it worse is that she seemed to be unable to forgive herself for her situation; almost like she believed she deserved to be treated like a piece of meat on a market stall. It was truly harrowing.

But this is what makes Hudson such a good writer. She had my heart in my mouth with the desperation of Alena’s situation.

Dave’s story somewhat parallel’s Alena’s in the fact that they both get themselves into situations that they feel that they have no control over. Dave is trying to fulfil the wishes of his dying mother and gets himself trapped by a set of circumstances that were never part of his life plan. Both of the characters are trapped. Not only by what life puts in their way but how they both feel responsible for the way things are.

Their love story is lovely to follow. I think what makes it so enjoyable is the coy innocence of it all. You see them both giving the bare minimum of themselves away, slowly peeling away layers as their relationship grows. It was rather lovely to read.

Thirst is a quirky love story but be warned, if you read books for pure escapism then this book isn’t for you as it does deal with difficult subjects and has a very real insight into the sinister underbelly of the life that some immigrants face.

Thirst by Kerry Hudson is available now.

kerry-hudson-thirst-cover

A trio of women all living in different periods of the 20th century are all held together by a genetic link. One that will see them pass in and out of each other’s lives over the course of sixty years.

Our first heroine, Jessie is living in France. After being abandoned by her husband she begins to rely on kindness of strangers to get by; transforming herself from Jessie to Perdita – muse, socialite and lover of a famous artist.

Next comes Baba McCleod aka Lisa La Touche, a Hollywood starlet, maker of her own destiny and big dreamer. Her success comes during the pre-World War II period but after she has been left in a delicate way from an affair with a married actor Lisa has some big decisions to make. Can she leave the glitz and glamour of Tinsletown behind?

And finally there is Cat. She is the most strong willed and independent of the three; a photographer who throws herself into the most dangerous situations. Her adventures happen amidst a backdrop of sixties decadence along with the darker side of the decade – focussing on the political unrest of a period of history that saw dramatic social and political upheaval.

Kate Beufoy’s stunning novel was based of letters that her grandmother had written just after the First World War. She was working in France and fell in love with painter. The letters, along with a dress from Liberty’s of London and other artefacts became the premise of this story.

This is a wonderful novel; the three generations of remarkable, strong willed, determined women that had to fight against societal constraints to stay afloat is one that we all should want to read. Beaufoy has managed to capture three very distinct voices and separate them into three different historical backdrops (that in my opinion acted as tertiary characters throughout the novel) and makes you empathise and fight for each one of them. It truly is a love story in both the conventional and non-conventional sense.

I loved this Liberty Silk. From the very first page I was transported into a different world. I was both titillated and impressed with how seamlessly Beaufoy mixed fact and fictionby introducing famous figures of the 20th century – such as Zelda Fitzgerald and The Beatles et al – into the story like they had a purpose in the narrative. However, I was more in awe of how much heart this story had. It was heartbreaking and heart warming in equal measure and I am genuinely sad that I have finished reading it.

Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy is available now.

liberty silk

alison mercer after i left you 1Title: After I Left You

Author: Alison Mercer

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Black Swan

The Blurb

Every broken heart has a history.

Anna hasn’t been back to Oxford since her last summer at university. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the sting of betrayal, the secret she carries around, the last night she spent with them all.

Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present. . . Can Anna finally face up to the memories of that summer and the people she left behind?

An absorbing, powerful novel of love, friendship and secrets that sweeps you away from the very first page. The perfect read for fans of Lisa Jewell, Liane Moriarty and Jane Fallon.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Anna Jones is 18 years old and has been accepted into the prodigious Oxford University to read English. As she embarks on this new educational adventure she knows no one, she is shy and a little unsure of herself and she doesn’t seem to fit in with the elite circle of students compromised by Victor, Meg, Barnaby, Clarissa and Keith; that is until one day she is invited into the fold.

However, things – and people – aren’t necessarily all that they seem.

After I Left You is a story steeped in mystery and intrigue. It is told from two different time perspectives yet both from the protagonist Anna’s point of view. Throughout the novel Mercer maintains the suspense and keeps the reader wanting to read the next chapter to find out what is about to happen. She has created a wonderful cast of characters that you can love and hate in equal measure as she masterfully reveals their idiosyncratic quirks and traits.

What Mercer manages to do is give you a fly on the wall perspective of what life appears to be like in a prodigious college atmosphere. If I had to liken it to another book I would say that After I Left You has the same mood and allure of The Secret History but in a much more accessible way. The secrets and lies naturally draw you in as the lives of the privileged few eek out onto the page.

One thing that initially did take me by surprise was the speedy exposition. There is no gentle ride to the main drama of the story. From the first page you are thrown in. I wasn’t expecting that, however, on reflection I can see why this was necessary. Within the first few lines Anna is confronted with her past, a past that she has, up until now, managed to leave there. For me, this made the story more real. We didn’t get to wistfully become acquainted with Anna and then hit with a stumbling block; it all came as part of one big package. We learn about whom Anna is, her past and her present all at the same time.

This really is a wonderful read and the descriptive nature of Mercer’s writing paints a gorgeous picture. I am looking forward to reading other her other novels and seeing what else she is capable of.

After I Left You by Alison Mercer is available now.

Follow Alison Mercer (@AlisonLMercer) and visit her official website www.alisonmercerwriter.com.

3 Stars