The Push by Ashley Audrain

How do I even start trying to talk about this book? I’ll do my best because today is my turn to shout about it on the blog tour!

Ok, so, I knew it was going to be dark, uncomfortable and immersive, I’d read a fair bit of ‘wow, this book though’ reaction on social media. Little did I know just how much this story was going to get under my skin.

‘Family history, written in our genes is handed down the generations. From Mother to daughter. The good and the bad. We cannot choose what we inherit. We cannot decide what we are. Sometimes we get to be angels.

And sometimes monsters…’

I have a beautiful grown up daughter and I’ll forever be my mothers daughter even though she’s passed. The Push took me down the memory lane of my own childhood and motherhood.

Being a Mum or a Dad to a son or a daughter will magnify the intensity of Audrains story tenfold. I felt such strangeness in my stomach reading this book. I had to put it down and gather myself numerous times.

When I first finished, I was almost 100% sure I wouldn’t be able to review it. It kind of hurt. I laid in bed that night mulling over it’s content, my emotions were muddled.

Did I enjoy it? Was I prepared enough to get through it? Did it dig up some personal stuff?

Not sure. No, I don’t think I was. And categorically yes, it did.

This is a story about society’s expectations of motherhood. How a woman is supposed to have some kind of pre-installed knowledge of how to do things right. Feel things right. To naturally nurture. And perhaps use your own childhood as a template to do a great job and bring up a perfectly rounded, delightful human being.

But what if your childhood was horrific? What do you pass on then? Knowingly or unknowingly. It’s a chilling thought.

So your feelings aren’t quite right. The sleep deprivation is blamed. It’s just your hormones, it’ll pass. The adjustment period gently mentioned by those who ‘do it right’.

But what about paranoia? IS IT paranoia? Darkness. Guilt. Self-loathing. Confusion. Distrust. I could reel off a load.

Come on, be a doting Mummy, it’s such a precious gift. Love every minute of it, they grow up so quickly.

I have to keep too many secrets about Blythe and Fox. Violet and Sam. I’m not giving much away about the story itself or the three generations of women that hold this story together in the worst way possible. It would spoil it.

I am astonished by how this story made me feel. I was hooked the minute I started it. It felt so raw, so real. This may well be psychologically thrilling, but, oh the HORROR.

The Push is absorbing, I was enthralled by how Audrain intertwined the generations with each other. I struggle with multiple timelines usually but I had no difficulty here.

The characters are believable, expertly created and emotionally complex yet so easy to relate to, to have an opinion about.

It’s hard to say I enjoyed reading The Push, how can you possibly enjoy something that makes the hairs on your neck stand up when you’ve read a paragraph that forces you to put the book down.

I could of been reading a true story, and that’s what stunned me most of all.

As I come to the end of talking about one of the THE hardest books I’ve read this year, I’ll say this; that perfect family over there, you know the one, nice home, all smiley, living their idyllic life, Sunday morning football, ballet class, home baking, whatever. If you look hard enough, you might just spot a psychopath beginning to emerge.

An unforgettable five star read.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

‘Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk’.

First of all, I’d like to start off by saying a massive thank you to Penny who blogs over at www.whatdoireadnow.co.uk for hosting an arc book giveaway on Twitter. I entered and was so surprised that I won!!

Right, so, how on earth can I write a review for Nothing Important Happened Today that’s going to make any sense at all because it BLEW MY MIND! I guess I’ll just start typing and see how it goes…

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides. One cult. No leader.

Click on the noose for Goodreads Synopsis

Carver by name. Carver by nature.

Crikey Will, your book has carved up my brain, your sharp words and stabby no nonsense writing style had my undivided attention instantly. INSTANTLY I TELL YOU.

Nothing Important Happened Today has the most aggressive narrative I’ve ever read. Each page was telling me something I needed to hear, in straight up, no nonsense language. Words were being thrown at me, paragraphs hitting me square between the eyes. Whole pages making me forget to bloody well blink for gods sake!! Carver ensures that you are one hundred percent listening to what he has to say.

There was an odd familiarity to each character, a strange, relatable feeling that often made me STOP and just THINK. I’d find myself staring out the window, trying to understand why I connected to a diverse bunch of characters that surely I had nothing in common with…

ALSO!!! Is it just me, or are there HIDDEN MESSAGES in this book?? Am I going crazy? Is Mr Carver trying to tell me something? Advise me? I just don’t know.

Anyway, back to the story. I love crime fiction. I also thoroughly enjoy True Crime, but I’ve never read anything that incorporates the two together. One of the BEST things about NIHT (apart from the GENIUS STORYLINE) was the real life serial killer references, a fascinating and brilliant insight into the real crimes that gave this story real guts.

This is the deepest of darkest stuff people.

Take social media. Take these Millenials’.

To best describe this book, (the style of the writing more than the plot itself) I’d say it was the English equivalent of Irvine Welshs’ Trainspotting. (Minus the jacking up and Scottish lingo that even my Scottish husband can’t understand!)

I don’t want to start ooh-ing and aah-ing about how much I want you to go buy this book, or borrow it from the library or download it to your Kindle. (Other e-readers are available of course!)

I certainly won’t go on about how sensitive the subject matter is. This book is full of triggers.

I often experience difficulties when reading books with more than, say, 4 or 5 characters. I didn’t have any trouble here though. Carvers’ short chapters with simple titles helped to keep me in the loop. This book was as EASY TO READ as it was HARD.

HANG ON A MINUTE! It’s just clicked. I related so much to Carvers’ characters because just like them, I’m a NOBODY!

I see it now. Crystal clear.

I don’t think I can write anymore about this book because it’ll be just mindless waffle. What I will say though is that I’m starting Good Samaritans by Carver in a minute because I simply need to read everything this authors written.

I’ll go and pop my review onto Goodreads, and give it the FIVE STARS IT DESERVES.

Thanks Will for writing this life-like freak show of a story. I loved everything about it.

The Regrettable Actions of my Bookish Younger Self

So today I’ve decided to take a trip down Book Memory Lane. You know what us oldies are like for reminiscing about days gone by, all nostalgic, when times were better…

As you’ve probably all experienced in your own lives, us book lovers simply run out of shelf space. Unless of course you’re one of those lucky sods with a massive spare room/library to house every single book you’ve ever owned. (No bitterness or jealousy at all there.)

I’ve done many a charity shop donation with books I just didn’t have room for. Okay, admittedly, some I was glad to see the back of, but most were ‘I doubt I’d re-read, but I still like yous’. I have been known to *ahem* buy them again if seen for a bargain somewhere though.

In superb technicolour, here are the actual editions I have loved and lost.

[Click on the covers to find out more!]

And there we have it. A mixed bag of books from my past that I would love to have back on my bookshelves. Did any of these ring any bells? If you were a child/teen of the 80’s, I’m sure some of these covers will take you back!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend folks!

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.

A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements

I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!

I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance. 

It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!) 

Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been 
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.

That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book! 

I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse! 

I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions. 

I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:

Shantaram, I will never forget you.

Zenka by Alison Brodie

 

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Zenka by Alison Brodie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vell, vat vas a lot ov vun! Or, in non-Zenka style, that was a lot of fun!

Zenka is a Hungarian pole dancer and she works at a club owned by Cockney gangster Jack Murray. Now, it turns out that Jack has a son he’s desperate to get to know, to be a father to, and Zenka is going to help him with this rather unconventional mission.

She’s going to befriend Nicholas, Jacks long lost son, possibly seduce him in the process, and get him toughened up to be the son of a gangster. A man to fear.

What follows is a story that had me absolutely creased up laughing many, many times. To describe the setting, characters and plot, I would say it was reminiscent of something along the lines of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Zenka is a kind hearted, sassy woman and she does her best to get father and son reunited, but it’s not going to be easy. And, oh blimey, she has some pretty crazy ideas!

Nicholas can’t believe his luck when Zenka enters into his life, a life that has changed dramatically since he came home and discovered his flat had been vandalised.

Alison Brodie has written a super funny and touching story about the perils of crime, a families past, and how not to dispose of a corpse or two. I’m finding it tricky to give this book a one genre slot, it is predominantly a crime thriller, but it has romance and gritty British humour in the mix too.

I loved every character in this book, they are all so very different from each other. Zenka’s voice is mainly heard in letter format every few chapters or so, her Hungarian accent being written phonetically so the reader can really hear her attempt at speaking English. This took a bit of getting used to, but after a few chapters, it vorked incredibly vell.

Jack is a typical Cockney gangster who’s use of rhyming slang and ‘wide-boy’ attitude made him likeable but I was initially wary of him. He’s a hard man, but as the story progresses, his softer side emerges as his history is revealed and I really warmed to him.

The best thing about this book for me, was the relationship between Nicholas and his flat mate Jason. These two had me in stitches with their hilarious bickering and witty one-liners. When things start to get REALLY complicated, and these two find themselves in the middle of something they shouldn’t be, the authors choice of dialogue and the character reaction was superb. At one point I literally had tears rolling down my cheeks because the whole scenario was so hysterical! It just tickled me pink!

This read ticked many a box for me, it had a few violent and aggressive scenes, balanced out by a clever storyline with a few plot twists along the way, a little touch of romance, and a lot of laugh out loud moments. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I’d like to read more by Ms Brodie.

My only complaint is I’m not a big fan of the cover art. The author has told me she’s going to be changing it soon, which I’m glad for because I’m not keen on seeing a characters clear photo/picture on a book cover. I want to visualise how they look in my own way and not have a face already given to me from the start. Characters, for me, kind of materialise as I’m reading about them. Chapter by chapter a characters features start to form in my minds eye, and usually by about half way, I’ve established what they look like. But apart from that minor moan, I thought Zenka was a hoot!

I’d like to thank Alison Brodie for sending me an electronic copy of this to read in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure.

View all my reviews

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