# First Line Fridays # The Library of the Unwritten by A.J.Hackwith

This wonderful meme is originally hosted by Hoarding Books. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you are reading or have recently read and then present it.

The first lines of the book:

Stories want to change, and it is a librarian’s job to preserve them; that’s the natural order of things. The unwritten Wing of the Library, for all the infinite magic and mystery, is in some ways a futile project. No story, written or unwritten, is static. Left abandoned too long and given the right stimulation, a book goes wrong in the head. It is a story’s natural ambition to wake up and start telling itself to the world…

The book is:

From the book blurb:

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Why I picked this book:

I am a big fan of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. One of the most famous lines of this brilliant novel is: Manuscripts don’t burn. So I really wanted to see how this idea is going to get developed in this new book. Hope I won’t be disappointed!

  • Have you read The Library of the Unwritten? if yes, what did you think? is it something you would recommend?

Book Review The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames

Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other’s gold


From the book synopsis:

An insightful and sparkling novel that opens on a college campus and follows the friendship of four women across life-defining turning points

Assigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorne College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.

The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.

My thoughts:

You’re either going to love this book or hate it. If you fall in love with its compelling, engaging writing style and care for Alice, Margaret, Ji Sun and Lainey as they move from adolescence of their freshman year in college to adulthood, you will not want the book to end, or at very least hope for regular updates in future to know how they are doing. If you don’t connect with the book, the story is going to seem long and unnecessarily detailed. Life on paper…

The four girls were assigned the same suite with a window seat on their first day of college. They thought that they were placed together based on the fact that all of them were second daughters and only later noticed that their last names started with an R, an S and two Ts. As Elizabeth Ames spells her story you see the magic of becoming friends as powerful (if not more) as falling in love. There are people around them: boyfriends, acquaintances, professors, parents, siblings, some of them more important than others, some failing to make anything but a very fleeting impression. It is clear, though, that for Alice, Margaret ,Ji Sun and Lainey, their friendship is in part something that defines them. Perhaps, even more than their families, because it might have begun as a random decision of a housing officer, but it continued by choice, which is evident in how they continued to love and care for each other despite their worst deeds, their shameful mistakes.

We are told at the very beginning when the mistakes were made: Alice’s before the college, when she was twelve, Ji Sun’s in the sophomore year, Margaret’s after the graduation and Lainey’s already as a mother to her own child. Four mistakes, four parts of the book, one life that led to that moment and one life in which to make sense of what happened and live it down however much it changes you and people around you.

Don’t think you are not going to judge them- you will. Because, to be honest, they are really inexcusable, those deeds. But you will judge them not as a stranger, but as an invisible friend, trying to see all the reasons and circumstances that led to their lapse of judgement. Reasons they might not be aware of themselves.

No one knows everything about anyone. Not even themselves. Maybe least of all themselves.

Are the characters relatable? yes, they are. I could see bits of myself and my own friends in the girls. The characters are unique and wonderfully complex, and go through intense changes moving from one part of the book to another. You know, you feel it in your bones, they will continue evolving long after the book because this is life, and what we’ve just read is just a glimpse.

The issues the book discusses are not the easiest. Don’t go into the book thinking it will be a light summer read: infertility, sexual harrassment and abuse, miscarriage, depression, adoption are all here, among the other curveballs life throws the four friends to deal with. But the way the author talks about them is both painfully honest and sensitive.

A wonderful debut novel, lyrical, beautifully-written and emotional.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion. 

  • Have you read TheOther’s Gold or is it on your tbr?
  • What’s the best book about a lifelong friendship you have read recently?

#Book review #The Passengers by John Marrs

The premise of this clever and well-written sci-fi thriller, set in the UK in a very near future, is fascinating. The AI that controls eight driverless cars moving to their different destinations is hacked, the destinations are reprogrammed, as the passengers become a hostage to a mysterious and seemingly omniscient Hacker who informs them that in 2 1/2 hours they are going to die.

The story alternates between showing what happens to the people in the cars (who come from all walks of life: a pregnant young woman, an aging actress, and a mother of five trying to escape her abusive husband, an immigrant whose appeal for asylum has been refused, a married couple with two children, a decorated war veteran and a suicidal new man) and a car incident inquest jury. The people on the jury are told they can save one passenger only, while the rest are going to die. As the Car Hack is broadcast live all over the world, the public is also given one vote to decide which passenger they want to save. One by one, the passengers plead their cases, trying to make the best impression of themselves, only to have the Hacker reveal additional information about them that completely changes the picture. Is there anyone truly innocent among these people? Who will survive the imminent collision? and why is the Hacker doing it ?

The story is a real page-turner with numerous twists and turns. John Marrs masterfully shows how dangerous and misleading incomplete information is when a vital decision is to be taken. The main moral dilemma is whether one person’s life is more valuable than the other’s, although there are other equally serious issues discussed, including racism, gender discrimination, honesty, unscrupulous politicians, and mob mentality in the age of social media.
The book is well-researched, and the topic is timely, as the ethical issues raised by the author in such an entertaining way are serious and pertinent to the technological advances our society is making. The aspect that was the most thought-provoking for me wasn’t our over-reliance on technology that isn’t infallible, but the amount of data about us that is being collected, used and potentially abused. Another moment which horrified me was the ease with which the public opinion could be manipulated by presenting incomplete information.

The characters created by John Marrs are diverse, complex and multi-faceted. As the book progresses, your opinions will be revised, as things are rarely black and white, and the more you get to know the people in the book, the more difficult you will find to judge them.

Exciting, fast-paced, entertaining to the point of being addictive, The Passengers is a must read not only for sci-fi fans, but for anybody who enjoys a well-written, thought-provoking thriller.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The Passengers?
  • If yes, what was the most thought-provoking aspect for you? which character did you find the most fascinating?
  • If no, does the book sound like something you would like to add to your tbr?
  • Have you read any other books by John Marrs?

# Book Review #The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

Sarah Rock appears to lead a sad and lonely life, despite living in a beautiful and spacious apartment in Upper East Side Manhatten and being able to go to museums, art exhibitions and social events she used to love so much. Her children have been sent to attend a boarding school and she is missing the sense of purpose they gave her life. Her husband Eric has become more distant and seems to spend more and more time away on business with his assistant Juliette, whose photos Sarah found on his phone. Eric keeps saying Sarah’s jealousy is totally unfounded, but Juliet turns up everywhere they go . Worse than that, Sarah keeps noticing people giving her looks of pity and treating her as if she is particularly fragile.

One day, Sarah moves forward her appointment with her therapist Dr Helena Robin for an hour and spends this time in the park nearby, reading Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. Immersed in the world of passion, Sarah is surprised to be approached by a young and handsome stranger who strikes a conversation with her. Lawrence is an aspiring writer, although he is quite reluctant to tell Sarah anything else about himself. There is something familiar about him. Could it be that they have met before but Sarah cannot remember it? Four weeks later the police knock on Sarah’s door and inquire about a woman Sarah saw in the park the same day she met Lawrence. Can she help the police without giving herself away? who was the woman and why is Lawrence impossible to find?

The nature of the book is such that Sarah will keep you guessing what is real and what is not. There is no omniscient narrator to help you make sense of the events and the clues, you just have to experience it together with Sarah and try to understand who (and what memories)you can trust.

It is a short read, quite fast-paced and well-written. What I liked the most about it is the way the authors rendered Sarah’s feelings: pervasive sadness, hope, elation, elusive moments of peace and calm, interpersed with confusion and emotional pain.

I saw one major twist coming because the book reminded me of ‘The trick is to keep breathing’, which made an impression on me when I first read it years ago. If you have read this book by Janice Galloway, you might begin to see Sarah’s experience from a certain angle quite early in the story.

Having said it, Teresa Sorkin’s story is original, written in a different genre, and will appeal to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers with masterfully portrayed unreliable narrators.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Beaufort Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The woman in the Park or is it on your tbr?
  • Do you enjoy reading mysteries with an unreliable narrator?

# First line Fridays # The Bromance Book Club

This wonderful meme is originally hosted by Hoarding Books. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you are reading or have recently read and then present it.

The first lines are:

There was a reason Gavin Scott rarely drank. He was bad at it.

As in, face-planted on the carpet while reaching for the bottle bad. And too drunk to see in the dark so might as well stay down bad..

Which is why he didn’t get up when his best friend and teammate, Delfray Hicks, pounded on the door to his hotel room, a fourth-floor state of depression that reminded him every minute that he could at least screw up like a champion…

The book title is The Bromance Book Club, and the description sounded hilarious. Nashville’s top alpha men secretly reading romance books to get tips on how to save thier marriages? Bring it on! Hopefully, the book is going to make a light summer read and will be as entertaining as the synopsis suggests.

Book Blurb:

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

  • Have you read The Bromance Book Club or is it on your tbr?

Throwback Thursday # Book Review #Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of the books that were published over a year ago.

Today I’m going to present The Dark Matter by Blake Crouch:

From Goodreads synopsis:

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

My thoughts:

This was my first novel by Blake Crouch and I was hooked straightaway. I grew up on a wholesome diet of classic science-fiction, so the premise of a multiverse with infinite alternate realities created by our choices in life was not new to me. However, the execution is superb, with its compelling storyline, fast pace and just enough science to make you wonder: what if it was actually possible to create technology that would allow us live our lives thousands of times over, eradicating any kind of regret?

Jason Dessen, a professor of physics at a second-rate graduate school, sacrificed his career in order to have a happy family with his wife Daniela, who used to be a promising artist, and a teenage son Charlie. Both Jason and Daniela are aware that their choices stopped them from achieving something great in their respective fields, but they are content, wrapped in the bubble of their domestic bliss. Until one day Jason goes for one drink with an old friend who remained single and career-driven, and has just won a prestigious scientific award. On his way home, Jason gets abducted, drugged and sent away to a different world. The world where Daniela isn’t his wife, Charlie was never born, and Jason himself is a brilliant scientist who has discovered a ground-breaking way of exploring the worlds we create by forgoing one option in life for the sake of another one. What happens afterwards can be described as a sci-fi version of Odyssey as Jason is trying to find his way to his beloved Penelope/Daniela.

As the question of identity and how our choices shape our reality is the central one, it is no wonder that Jason’s character is the most developed. We get just a little glimpse into what Daniela thinks of Jason Number 2 (Spoiler: she does notice the small changes that somehow do not add up). Otherwise, what we see is Jason’s perspective and Jason’s determination to come home, which he defines not as a place, but as his family.

Blake Crouch’s writing is very visualhe doesn’t tell you things, he shows, or makes you feel them. You hear onions being chopped, you smell Daniela’s favourite dish being cooked and see a half-filled glass of wine. Jason’s terror at being held at a gunpoint is also palpable. Short, clipped sentences help the author create the fast pace and tension that will make you want to read the book in one sitting.

A marvellous blend of a mystery, thriller, coming home/ survival story, science-fiction, and romance, Dark Matter has definitely lived up to its hype. I’m glad I opened the door to the reality where this book has been written, published, and found thousands of readers.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Crown for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read Dark matter? If yes, what did you think of it?
  • Have you read other books by this author? Any recommendations?

# Book Review # The Whisper Man by Alex North

If you are lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you…

Dark, creepy, eery… Today is the publication day for Alex North’s debut crime novel which has already received a lot of attention. My expectations were really high and the book did not disappoint. It kept me up for hours with its fascinating blend of reality and supernatural. At some point I just gave up trying to second-guess what was happening and just went along wherever the writer was taking me.

Twenty years ago a series of horrible crimes occured in a quiet and peaceful village of Featherbank (yes, the writer is right, the name does evoke a feeling of safety and coziness). A serial killer, later nicknamed The Whisper Man, abducted and murdered five little boys. All his victims heard a monster whispering under their windows, trying to lure them out into the darkness of the night. Although the perpetrator, Frank Carter, was caught by the local police, the body of the last victim Tony Smith was never found. The events made such a lasting impression on the residents, that a creepy nursery rhyme spread in the playgrounds:

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.

If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.

When another six year old boy disappears on his way home, the case bears an uncanny resemblance to the old crimes, which can mean two things: either Frank had an accomplice, or there is a copy cat. At any rate, DI Amanda Beck needs all the help she can get to find Neil Spencer. And that includes involving DI Pete Willis, the man who put the original Whisper Man in prison and who keeps visiting him on a regular basis, hoping that the monster will stop playing his twisted mind games and will reveal the location of Tony Smith’s remains.

Meanwhile, Tom and Jake Kennedy are grieving the loss of their beloved wife and mother. Tom can’t help, but feel an incredible mix of emotions: loss, confusion, sorrow, resentment at being abandoned with the hardest task of them all- that of being a good father to his quiet, imaginative, vulnerable son.

There were so many happy memories to draw on, and I knew that I would as I continued, but while I loved and missed her more than I could say, I also couldn’t deny the ugly kernel of resentment I felt, the frustration at being left alone with Jake, the loneliness of that empty bed. The sense of being abandoned to deal with things it felt like I couldn’t cope with… Grief is a stew with a thousand ingredients, and not all of them are palatable.

Jake keeps having nightmares about finding his mother dead, and needs his father’s help to carry him upstairs and downstairs as he can’t face stepping on the spot where he saw his mother’s body lying. He also has trouble fitting in and making friends at school. In fact, the only friend Jack has made recently, a little girl in a blue checked dress is imaginary, which makes his dad both sad and apprehensive. Tom decides that they need to have a new start and a new home is chosen …in the village of Featherbank. Because nothing bad can ever happen in a village with such a beautiful welcoming name.

I don’t want to give the story away. The plot is clever and full of surprising twists and turns. I was already glued to the book, but they just added an extra level of tension and emotion. At the centre of this fascinating story are several father-son relationships. Fatherhood may come to you when you are not ready (you might never be) or too busy fighting your own demons. You might feel the old wounds from your own childhood are being re-opened with every failed attempt to communicate and connect. Yes, we tend to rely on the models of our own parents’ behaviour, but we are not our parents, and we can consciously choose a different path.

The characters are well-written and the author’s use of multiple POVs adds to our understanding of their motivations and their evolution. Jack is smart and sensitive, and is trying to find his own strategies for dealing with the loss of his mother. Once you understand what has been happening, you will also admire this little boy’s courage. Tom may be too harsh on himself for failing his son, but he is also the one to keep on trying every day. The two detectives are hard-working and determined not to let another child die on their watch. DI Amanda Beck is a strong woman and where would the world be without them? There are police cases like this, where the first 48 hours are crucial, where there is an immense pressure to find the missing child, and there are also psychological consequences of failing to do so. We also see humility, discipline and motivation that drives Pete Willis’s life. First, motivation that comes from having lost something precious and not wanting to go through a similar pain again, then, motivation to become a part of something wonderful in the future. Finally, the super-creepy villains are also fully developed. Take the morbid hobby of Norman Collins and his pride at being an expert at something that will send shivers down your spine. The motivation of the second Whisper Man is also chilling, while the final touch in the end scene is just shocking and will make you re-think the events in the book with this new insight.

The writing is vivid, intriguing, and gripping. With all the tension and eeriness, the emotion the writer is tapping in is the worst fear a parent can have: that a moment of inattention or failing to take seriously your child’s apprehensions may result in a tragedy, something you cannot go back and change. At the same time, it is also true:

The abduction of a child by a stranger is every parent’s worst nightmare. But statistically it is a highly unusual event. Children are actually most at risk of harm and abuse from a family member behind closed doors, and while the outside world may seem threatening, the truth is that most strangers are decent people, whereas the home can be the most dangerous place of all.

The Whisper Man is like a good old scary story told in the darkness – it is easy to analyse its elements in the daylight, safe in the knowledge that monsters don’t exist, but the memory of your own accelerated heartbeat and clammy hands is there, and, deep down, you know- you were scared…

Thank you to Edelweiss and Celadon Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Book synopsis from Goodreads:

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

  • Have you read The Whisper Man or is it on your tbr? if you have, what did you think of it? Did it live up to your expectations?

#Sunday Morning for Kids # A warm Friendship # Bruno has a hundred friends

# Sunday Morning for Kids is a variation on the meme started by Rae Longest at Powerful Women Readers.

Both books I read and would like to present today are on the topic of friendship. In my opinion, they are most suitable for older children due to the issues they deal with.

A warm friendship

Ellen DeLange is becoming one of my favourite authors. I already blogged about her books ‘The boy and the egg’ and ‘When I look up’, both of which dealt with the power of imagination, love and acceptance.

In ‘A warm friendship’ we meet cute and curious Squirrel that finds a lonely Snowman who’s shaking and shivering in the cold. She comes up with a plan to help him. Not only does she bring him a woolen scarf, but she also encourages other animals to stop by and bring a scarf or a blanket to wrap around and warm the poor thing up. They become great friends, until the warm spring sun melts the snowman, and the squirrel is sad to see that all that is left is a colourful pile of scarves. Wise Owl reminds Squirrel that she can see Snowman in every flower and leaf, as well as other animals’ hearts who also loved her little friend.

Sometimes we make friends for a brief time and then move on, and we have to learn to be kind to each other, even if we are in a temporary situation. There are many different ways of explaining this story, which is essentially about caring for each other while we are together and sometimes having to let it go, without forgetting your friend. You can also talk about the seasons and nature, or if your child older and is mature enough, you can also touch upon loss, grieving, and cherishing our memories of the loved ones who are not with us any more.

The illustrations by Jacqueline Molnar are adorable, and are probably the feature of the book I liked the best.

Bruno has one hundred friends

Bruno is on his way to spend time with his friends when he finds a curious object- a phone. Bruno quickly understands that the phone lets him do lots of new things and have experiences he has never had, but above all, it allows him to have many more friends. In fact, when his old friends, Renzo and Rico, ask him what this object is for, he doesn’t hesitate: ‘It’s for making lots of friends all over the world’. Unfortunately, what happens next is a bit sad, because Bruno gets so absorbed in what is going on online, that he forgets to pay any attention to Renzo and Rico, who are trying very hard to involve him in ‘real life’ activities. Until one day the phone breaks and Bruno loses his virtual friends only to discover that Renzo and Rico are still there for him and will always be.

I am in two minds about this one. On one hand, it is important to make children think about the importance of real-life friendships and ‘non-digital life’. Balance is essential, playing, running, climbing trees, cycling, discovering the world with your senses, chatting to real people you can look into eyes or give a hug is invaluable. On the other hand, there are benefits to using technology, not least of which is various online communities for people with similar interests, saying nothing of keeping in touch with real friends who happen to be far away. Again, it is up to the parent/ caregiver to talk with a child and discuss the implications and consequences of abandoning your older friends, when you could share your new discoveries and let your friends know how these enrich your life.

The artwork is beautiful and sweet, with warm colours, and endearing pictures of the three bear friends.

Thank you to NetGalley and Clavis for these ARCs provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

#First Line Fridays # The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard

This is the first time I am using this meme which is originally hosted by Hoarding Books. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you are reading or have recently read and then present it.

The first lines:

The year before my father died, he came with us to Sweden for the summer. He had been living with his dementia for over ten years by then, and – mildly, sweetly, uncomplainingly – he was gradually disappearing, memories falling away, words going, recognition fading, in the great unravelling.

The book is The Last Ocean: a journey through memory and forgetting by Nicci Gerrard.

Synopsis from the publisher:

From the award-winning journalist and author, a lyrical, raw and humane investigation of dementia that explores both the journeys of the people who live with the condition and those of their loved ones

After a diagnosis of dementia, Nicci Gerrard’s father, John, continued to live life on his own terms, alongside the disease. But when an isolating hospital stay precipitated a dramatic turn for the worse, Gerrard, an award-winning journalist and author, recognized that it was not just the disease, but misguided protocol and harmful practices that cause such pain at the end of life. Gerrard was inspired to seek a better course for all who suffer because of the disease.

The Last Ocean is Gerrard’s investigation into what dementia does to both the person who lives with the condition and to their caregivers. Dementia is now one of the leading causes of death in the West, and this necessary book will offer both comfort and a map to those walking through it. While she begins with her father’s long slip into forgetting, Gerrard expands to examine dementia writ large. Gerrard gives raw but literary shape both to the unimaginable loss of one’s own faculties, as well as to the pain of their loved ones. Her lens is unflinching, but Gerrard honors her subjects and finds the beauty and the humanity in their seemingly diminished states.

In so doing, she examines the philosophy of what it means to have a self, as well as how we can offer dignity and peace to those who suffer with this terrible disease. Not only will it aid those walking with dementia patients, The Last Ocean will prompt all of us to think on the nature of a life well lived.

He was very happy on that holiday. he was a man who had a deep love for the natural world and felt at home in it; he knew the names of English birds and insects, wildflowers and trees.

When I was a child, I remember him taking me to listen to the dawn chorus in the woods near our house. Standing under the canopy of trees in the bright wash of sound, he would tell me which song was the mistle thrush and which the blackbird.

At least, I think I remember this, but perhaps I make it up as a story to tell myself when I am sad.

The Last Ocean is poignant and tender, and like many amazing non-fiction books may go unnoticed, although it is extremely pertinent in our aging world.

  • Have you read this book or is it on your tbr? Do you read a lot of non-fiction?
  • Are you familiar with Nicci Gerrard’s work?
  • What is the best book (fiction or non-fiction) dealing with the topic of aging you have read recently?

#Friday I’m in love #Romance Book review # Handle with Care by Helen Hunting

The next book set in Helena Hunting hilarious and sexy world of Shacking Up!

Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the recluse oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

(From Goodreads synopsis)

My thoughts:

A lot of my friends have Helena Hunting listed as an auto-buy author of contemporary romance, and I really wanted to read one of her novels, even though this is book number 5 in the Shacking Up series.


Let me start with the characters. Wren Starling is a genius of PR. She has been hired by Moorehead Media to handle and smoothe out the inevitable repercussions of scandals associated with Armstrong Moorehead, selfish, spoilt, sex-addicted younger son of Fredrick, the CEO of the company. When Fredrick passes away, his older son Lincoln comes back to New York city for his father’s funeral and is promptly enlisted to help with the company for a few months. Lincoln has been working on building sustainable community projects in China and Guatemala, and isn’t particularly interested in living in the city beyond the six months his grandmother asked him to. Now Wren’s contract is amended to include ‘handling’ both of the brothers, that is she still has to baby-sit Armstrong, as well as helping Lincoln transition to his new city life of a rich businessman. What is she hoping to get out of this job? a letter of recommendation and help to find a good position in one of the charities Moorehead family runs, and reconciliation with her own mother, a close friend of Mrs Moorehead. Wren is professional, organised, independent, sassy, decisive and loyal to her family and her best friend Dani.

Lincoln Moorehead first resembles a bit of a bear, but then thanks to Wren’s appointments (which he moans about but stoically endures), he cleans up to reveal a sweet and gorgeous young man. I loved his relationship with G-mom, his grandmother, although his constant fighting with Armstrong was quite childish on both sides. Most importantly, you can tell his heart is in the right place and he has a good moral compass.

Although a large part of the novel is dedicated to these two characters, others are also very important. Armstrong will make you wonder about how exactly his parents managed to bring up such different sons. He doesn’t seem to have any redeemable qualitites at all. Gwendolyn Moorhead, Lincoln and Armstrong’s mother, isn’t an endearing person, either. Actually, it is she and her life story that provides the drama element in this book. Let’s say, I really needed to step aside and try to think about the events from her point of view to make sure I’m not getting a skewed picture.

I also loved Dani, Wren’s loyal bestie, who is a private investigator, a voice of reason and a shoulder to cry on. Hope there will be a book dedicated to Dani, as I would really like to get to know this character a bit better.

The plot

What I expected was something like the old trope of a poor and hard-working secretary who wins the heart of her workaholic boss. Hmmm… I don’t think this will come as a spoiler, if I say that Wren does win Lincoln’s heart. However, she is not poor, and not particularly sweet or obliging. She knows how to stand up for herself (years of self-defence classes do pay off), and is both sensible and independent, which, of course, appeals even more to Lincoln. Since these two are basically on the same page, there wouldn’t be much conflict, necessary to keep the reader’s attention, but thanks to Lincoln’s mother, even level-headed Wren gets her share of tears and frustrations. If you are reading it and wondering where all the action is, wait until the second half of the book.

The Writing

The book is fast-paced and very easy to read. It is a contemporary romance, and the contemporary life is fully reflected in the story. I didn’t particularly care for the coffee spill/whirlwind moment as well as the telephone call in the epilogue, but perhaps I am too traditional and will be in minority. There’s definitely enough good chemistry, understanding and sexual tension between the protagonists to satisfy a romantic comedy fan.


The fans of the series will be delighted, as the story of Lincoln and Wren is a fun-filled sexy summer read with a happy ever after ending. And if seeing a chin dimple makes you swoon, this is definitely your kind of book.

Thank you to Edelweiss and St.Martin’s paperbacks for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read Handle with Care or is it on your tbr?
  • Have you read other books by Helen Hunting? What did you like/ dislike about them?

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