c Book Reviews Catch Up February and March 2019 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, Books and Me

Book Reviews Catch Up February and March 2019

book recommendations reviews for 2019

It is time I caught up with sharing reviews of books I read during February and March, yes I know it's already May! You'll find a mixture of historical fiction and thrillers reviewed below including a book that is due to be published 11 July 2019.
  • A Nearly Normal Family
  • The Missing Girl 
  • Blackberry and Wild Rose 
  • I See You
  • Last Letter Home
I am going to pick out Blackberry and Wild Rose as my favourite historical read, set in London during 1700's and A Nearly Normal Family as a super thriller set in present day Sweden. But do read on to find out more about all of the books including the one I least enjoyed - though you may very well have a different view ☺.

I will never giveaway any spoilers in my reviews, just my honest opinion on how I found the book. So you can read my review with the confidence it will not ruin the story for you.
book recommendations review A Nearly Normal Family
A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping psychological thriller that forces the reader to consider: how far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and each other.
Nineteen-year-old Stella stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?
Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defence attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them? 

My Review

I so enjoyed how the telling of the story developed by hearing it told from each member of the family. First we hear from Stella's father, I was obviously heavily influenced by his opinions of Stella and how he interacted with the families circle of friends. At the end of this section I had clear ideas of who I thought Stella was and the possibilities of what may have happened. Little did I know! 

But then we hear from Stella and everything I thought gets turned on its head. So now I had combined both perspectives as to who, what, where and how Stella had found herself accused of murder. The story has many layers.

Then, we hear from Stella's mother, a criminal defence attorney. Adding more complex twists to the story. As I read the fathers story I felt sure we would hear next from the mothers side but no we moved straight to Stella, the accused. This did throw me, I thought Stella's story would come at the end of the book as part of the big reveal. As you can imagine with any good thriller things are never quite what you expect.

Towards the end of the book I had 4 characters in the mix for the murder, there is nothing obvious about how you expect this book to end. Read the book within four days. 

I've not previously read any books based in Sweden, and found it a fascinating insight into the  Swedish police and judicial system, which is very different to the UK. 

A great psychological thriller with a complex family dynamic, one to add to your to be read pile. 

Published by Pan Macmillan and due out 11 July 2019, thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.

book recommendations review The Missing Girl
The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
'A gripping debut from a serious new talent . . .' Erin Kelly on Jenny Quintana’s The Missing Girl when Anna Flores' adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad. Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother's possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother's death, but also the huge hole Gabriella's disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she's not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister? With that question comes the revelation that her biggest fear isn't discovering the worst; it's never knowing the answer. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella's disappearance?

My Review
Drawn to this book by the cover, as it stood out amongst the stacks of books in Waterstones.

The story of a teenage girl Gabriella that goes missing, told through her younger sister Anna’s eyes. Years later Anna returns to the village where she lived with her family. The story flips between present time and 1982 the time of Gabriella’s disappearance. Can Anna face the past, can she uncover what happened to her sister all those years ago, will the secrets in the village be told.

A great story, but I found the pace of the first two thirds of the book slow, to the point I nearly put it down for good. But I’m glad I didn’t, the final third of the book picks up the pace and really draws the reader in.

book recommendations review Blackberry Wild Rose Sonia Velton
Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.
Inside the Thorels’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.
It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.

My Review
A great historical read, set in London during the late 1700's and the Huguenot silk weavers. Right from the start of the book you feel immersed into Sara's world, and the harsh choices that life presents her. With a defiant character Sara will not allow herself to settle for a life of being a maid. This is where we see her go to work for Esther a good christian wife to a master silk weaver. Esther is kind and creative and much admires the beautiful patterns and creations of the silk weaver. 

Her focus however should be the running of the house and having a family, but still Esther is drawn to the silks. When a silk weaver journeyman comes to use one of the looms, she is enthralled by his skill at creating beautiful patterns. 

The relationship between Esther and Sara is not just that of maid and mistress, we see this develop into so much more. Will Sara's past ruin her hopes of becoming a ladies maid, and how can Esther push the boundaries of what a lady is limited to do during this time in history. Can they both find a way to support each other to accomplish their dreams, yet still survive the harshness of reality. A beautifully written book, with great characters of all classes. I enjoyed it so much I read it within a day!

Trust me once you have finished this book and you have much admired the beautiful book cover you will soon be googling to find out more about the silk weavers. 

Thank you to Quercus who sent me a review copy of this book.

book recommendations review I Found You Lisa Jewell
I See You by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'How long have you been sitting out here?''I got here yesterday.''Where did you come from?''I have no idea.'
East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can't remember.

My Review
Another good read by Lisa Jewell, the second book I have read by this author. A suspense thriller set over 2 time periods, present day and 1993. 

I found all the characters interesting, I liked Alice who's life seems to be filled constantly with chaos. I particularly enjoyed the steady paced reveal of Frank, a man how finds himself sitting on the beach in the rain outside Alice's house with no idea of his past or present. 

Poor Lily a newly wed waiting for her husband Carl who wasn't returned home from work. A new husband, new country with no family and friends to turn to except the police. I felt her confusion and annoyance, trying to master our British ways whilst getting answers and finding Carl. But what is she to do when she finds out everything she knows about her new life is a lie.

But how does all this connect back to a quite seaside town in northern England in 1993. 

There was only one part of the story I partly anticipated, but you can never trust it will happen as Lisa Jewell does not disappoint, she is not afraid of an unhappy ending.

book recommendations review Last Letter Home
Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.
In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Franklin, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.
When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain. 

My Review
I really did enjoy this book, for some silly reason I'd discounted it before I'd started it which is probably why it had sat on my bookshelf for the past year untouched.  

Young historian Briony discovers some old letters, then whilst on a holiday in Italy she stumbles upon a connection to her family from events that happened in an Italian village during World War II. 

On her return to England she delves deeper into the letters belonging to Sarah to find out how she is connected to Sarah and Paul mentioned in them. The chapters flip between Briony in present day and Sarah and Paul in the 1940's which is set in Norfolk.  As I was reading the parts set in 1940's Norfolk I found I could really place myself within the village setting and the walled garden on the large estate. It certainly helped draw on some memories I had of visiting the area a few years ago. 

Loved all the characters even the not so nice ones! 

A good book and for those of you who also do family history research I think you will get additional enjoyment from the story.

 ~ Leave me a comment if you have any book recommendations, I am particularly looking for good audio books ~

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