After the End by Clare Mackintosh

After the End is the fifth book by Clare Mackintosh and was released in 2019. It is about the parents of a young boy who disagree with each other about the decision to provide treatment, or end treatment and switch to palliative care for their son.

The first half of this book is emotionally very heavy. Each chapter is either from the point of view of Pip (the mother), Max (the father) or sometimes Leila (the doctor). It takes you through the journey of the son Dylan being in hospital, and the care he receives, up until the court case that is brought against the hospital.

I found the first part of the book to be very emotional and mostly well written, although there were a couple of occasions when I was reading a chapter based on the doctor and I got jerked out of my focus, it seemed like the writing went from being in first person to instead naming Leila and no longer being in first person. It jolted me a bit and I lost my focus.

Overall the first half of the book was absorbing and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately this all ended when I got to the second half. The style of writing changed and at each change of chapter I was jolted back out of my focus. I won’t say why, as I don’t want to give spoilers, but I just found the writing really off putting and I also found myself starting to dislike characters who I had previously empathised with and understood.

I will be completely honest and admit that I could only read half a dozen more chapters of the second half (the “After” section) before I lost all interest in the book and didn’t actually care what the outcome was any more.

I feel this book had a chance of being really good, a book that makes you think and consider both sides, but the second half of it just ruined it for me. I feel the author copped out of making a decision and it stopped the storyline flowing. This is not a book that I would recommend to anyone, which I feel horrible saying, but I feel unsatisfied with how things turned out and frustrated at the amount of time I spent reading it when I could have been reading something else.

Wintering by Katherine May

Katherine May is a British author who has written books such as The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club and The Electricity of Every Living Thing. I’ve never read any of her books before so Wintering was my introduction.

Wintering is about not only the season but also about when things get emotionally and mentally too much. When we struggle with day to day life and how we work out what we need to do to get through a dark patch. I related it to my depression quite strongly.

I never really considered the comparison of depression with winter. I’ve heard about the black dog or black clouds, but an entire season? One that has the “most wonderful time of the year” in it? It had never crossed my mind. I also never expected a book about that to be so beautiful, because it truly is. May takes you through her journey of dealing with her own wintering and what she tries and does to pull herself out of it. The imagery and writing is superb and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.

Like I said above, I’ve never read any books by May before but I will definitely be reading more. Her writing is a joy to read and I strongly recommend her books to everyone.

Thank you to NetGalley and Rider for my copy of the book to review.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

When the opportunity to read this book arose I was intrigued but also wary, after all a book where a boy’s immediate family and lots of strangers die? How depressing is that going to be? However, despite being sad it is also uplifting. Dear Edward is a lovely book that that follows the life of a young boy who is in a plane crash with his parents, older brother, and 188 strangers where he is the sole survivor.

It takes us through his journey of trying to come to terms with Dear Edward book coverhis loss, now living with his aunt and uncle who are also grieving for his parents and brother, as well as their own loses. Edward has the company of his new neighbour, Shay, who helps him gradually come to terms with his loss and learn how to deal with it. He also has a fantastic new headteacher who helps him heal in a very different but effective way.

Whilst all of this is happening we have alternating chapters that show us what was happening on the plane before the crash and introduces us to some of his fellow passengers, what they were thinking and feeling. This coinciding with the letters Edward finds that relatives of the passengers have written to him, gives us insight into the lives of the other victims.

This is a lovely book that shows us how another person can have an impact on our life with a simple gesture. It deals with grief and loss in a beautiful way and I enjoyed reading it and thoroughly recommend it.

Thank you to LoveReading and Penguin for my copy.

Sunny Side Up by Susan Calman

Let me start by saying that I think that this book should be required reading for everyone! It’s fabulous.

Sunny Side Up by Susan CalmanIt’s not an autobiography as I half expected, instead it’s a book about the virtues of kindness and why it’s so important. There are examples of different acts of kindness that have touched people and stayed with them, and Calman’s own story about how kindness has made her life better and more joyful. 

I loved reading this book, in a time when every country seems to be fractured due to views on Brexit, Scottish Independence, Trump, gun reform, racism, homophobia etc etc, this book was a joy to read. The chapter about Brexit was fantastic and I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with everything Calman said. 

Right now everyone seems so angry all of the time and at each other, and yes there is a lot to be angry about, but if we could try to do something kind for someone everyday then I truly believe that the world would gradually get better. If we listened to each other and tried to understand why people held the views they did rather then judging them, cutting them off and staying in our echo chamber, then maybe we might actually get somewhere. 

This book is really well written, you feel like you’re just sat having a chat with a friend, it doesn’t jump about or do anything to interrupt your concentration – it just flows. Read the book! My review just cannot do it justice. Read the book, open your mind and heart and be kind. 

P.S. I’m pretty sure Susan Calman and I would be great friends if we met – so far I haven’t found a single thing that we disagree about!

Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs

Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs is the first book in the Temperance Brennan series which the TV show Bones was based on. I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while but kept being put off due to the fact that I’ve watched all of the TV show (ironically this was also the reason I wanted to read the book!). 

Déjà Dead by Kathy ReichsLuckily the book was chosen in a poll in an online bookclub I’m in, so at the beginning of May I started reading the book. 

I was quite surprised to see that the book was nothing like the TV show! Yes the main character is Temperance Brennan, and yes she is a forensic anthropologist, however that’s where the similarities end. The supporting characters are different, the setting is different (in Canada instead of America, and Brennan is working for the police rather than a museum). 

I found that this worked out really well for me. I already liked the character of Brennan (even though she was also different) so I very quickly got absorbed into the book. 

The story itself was a very good read. I had no idea who the perpetrator was and there were a number of occasions where I was tense and eager to read what happened next – I love a book that is able to make things feel suspenseful like in a film, but without all the background music etc. It just proves to me that the writer is really good at what they do. 

The only thing that pulled me out of concentration occasionally was when Reichs was explaining where Brennan was going and the layout of the city. The only reason it pulled me out was because all the place names were French so I kept tripping up over the pronunciation of them (even though it was in my head). I’m sure that once I’ve read a few more of the books I will be more used to them and reading more fluidly. And I will definitely be reading more of the series! The writing was fantastic and I really want to know what happens with Brennan and the rest of the characters. 

If you like a bit of criminal mystery, with some science thrown in then I highly recommend this book for you to read. 

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

This book will be released in the UK on May 16 2019

Jeffery Deaver is an American author. He has written a lot of books, including three which have been made into films.

The Never Game book coverThe Never Game is the first book in a new series, and follows Colter Shaw as he gets embroiled in a game he didn’t expect.

Colter Shaw finds people. He’s not a cop or a bounty hunter, but he earns money by looking for people who are missing and there is a reward to find them. He’s good at what he does.

Shaw had a different upbringing. Brought up on ‘the compound’ he was home schooled and alongside that was taught hunting and survivor training.

As soon as you start reading this you’re pulled into the action. Shaw is desperately trying to rescue a woman in a sinking boat. Then we go back to the beginning and you find out how he got there.

I found the story engrossing from the start. I wanted to know more about Shaw, I wanted to understand what was happening. Deaver is very good, he regularly drip feeds you information and answers, but leaves enough out to keep you wanting to read more.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m pleased that I got a chance to read the first in a new series before there are too many books to catch up with. I will definitely be reading the next book, there is so much about Shaw I want to know and a very important unanswered question from his childhood.

If you like crime and mystery then I strongly recommend that you read this book!

Thank you to LoveReading and HarperCollins for sending me the book to review.

The Altered Wake by Megan Morgan

The Altered Wake is the first book in a series of four. It follows Cameron Kardell as she discovers more about the herself and those around her.

This is very different to any of the books I have read recently, being a fantasy/sci-fi book.

Megan Morgan is an Indie author living in Baltimore and the book is published by an indie publisher in Baltimore called Clickworks Press. Because it is an indie book by an author in America, it is only available as an ebook, so on Kindle and iBook etc for those of us in the UK, but at (currently) £2.99 (on Kindle) I think it’s a bargain for such a good book.

Cameron Kardell is a woman in her early twenties, she’s strong, determined and The Altered Wake book coverfocused. Working for the Sentinels (the organisation responsible for protecting the political leader and ensuring order across society) she is on a patrol of the outlying villages and towns with her Captain when she notices a lot of posters for missing children. Deciding to stop in this town to investigate Kardell comes across something out of the ordinary and almost unbelievable. Upon returning home she is introduced to the possibility of people having powers and her world changes.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, I read it to review on the suggestion of someone on Twitter and I was a bit nervous that I would be disappointed. I have to say though, I wasn’t. This book is really well written and I was completely captivated by the story from start to finish.

It’s nothing like The Hunger Games trilogy (other than the strong woman being the lead), but left me with the same sense of being invested in the characters and wanting more.

If you enjoy fantasy/sci-fi and strong women then I would recommend this book. I’m eager for the second book of the series to be released and may have already pestered the author to find out when this will be.

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts

This book will be released on 18 April 2019.

Roberts is a British author who has released four books in the Cosy series (The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, The Cosy Christmas Teashop, The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop, and The Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop) and also two other standalone books (not including this one).

Image of book Rachel’s Pudding PantryRachel’s Pudding Pantry is about a young woman called Rachel in her mid twenties who is running her families farm after the death of her father a couple of years previous. Overall she is doing well however there are some struggles that she has to work with her mum and other family and friends to help resolve, all whilst raising her five year old daughter.

This is very much a chick lit book and has a romance brewing throughout. It’s very easy reading and not at all heavy like the recent books I have been reading. However I don’t think that this genre is given as much credit as it deserves. For this book to be considered ‘easy reading’ it has to be well written, which it is. The story flows, at a calm, but not too slow, pace. The characters are well written and I really liked the main character of Rachel and cared about what happened to her. This was such a pleasure to read after the recent, very involved (and good) books that I’ve been reading.

I’m not a farmer, but the descriptions of farming life seemed to be well researched, believable and were clearly described in an engaging way. Also the depiction of Northumberland was beautiful and if the opportunity ever arises for me to go there I will be eager to seize it.

I thought that the way Roberts dealt with grief was impressive, I appreciated that it hadn’t been rushed and it was shown that it is something that can still be raw and difficult years later.

If you’re looking for a nice, pleasant read that leaves you feeling hopeful and positive, as well as emotionally moved in parts, then I recommend this book.

Also there were a couple of recipes at the end that I’m looking forward to trying.

Thank you to LoveReading and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book to honestly review.