Publisher: Penguin UK

Tour – The Way Back To You

Posted July 8, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Tour – The Way Back To YouThe Way Back To You by James Bailey
Published by Penguin UK on May 23, 2022
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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When Simon reconnects with his first love Sylvie - the French pen pal he never met - he is determined to not let her go again.

Life may not be as straight-forward at sixty as it was at sixteen, but that won't stop him.

Together with old school friend Ian, he sets off on the same bike ride - from Bristol to Bordeaux - that they attempted all those years ago.

But while they now have better bikes, more acceptable haircuts, and Google Maps, some things never change.

And it soon becomes clear that this trip will have even more bumps in the road than the first . . .

Ah, the nostalgia is strong with this one!

A love story with 2 big differences, the main characters are in their 60’s AND it’s told from the male POV.

This book has made my holiday, I’ve been led on a sun lounger in Majorca absolutely loving this. I’ve recommended it to the other mums around the pool and it’s currently being passed around. This paperback is being shared until it falls apart (which given it’s currently 32 degrees, won’t be long)

I live a second chance romance and I loved the humour in this book. Life in middle age isn’t all parties and how you look, it’s a he’s and pains and having a connection. This is the perfect romance book for me.

This book gave me all the feels, not just the romance but the friendship and the humour. I have laughed, I’ve cried. I can’t recommend it enough!!

If you don’t know what OHP stands for or who Kevin Keenan is … ask your mum (and buy her this book)


The Birdcage by Eve Chase

Posted May 4, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

The Birdcage by Eve ChaseThe Birdcage by Eve Chase
Published by Michael Joseph, Penguin UK on April 28, 2022
Genres: Historical, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
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Some secrets need to be set free . . .

Twenty years after their last visit, half-sisters Lauren, Kat and Flore are summoned to Rock Point: the beautiful and windswept cliff house where they sat for their father's most famous painting, Girls and Birdcage.

But what should be a joyous return is darkened by memories of the catastrophic events of a summer twenty years before.

Because when the sisters arrive, it is clear that someone is determined not to let the past lie.

Someone who is watching their every move.

Who remembers the girls in the painting, and what they did . . .

Set on the rugged Cornish coast, The Birdcage is a twisty, spellbinding novel with unforgettable characters who must piece together their family's darkest secrets.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Today is my stop on the tour for The Birdcage by Eve Chase, released on 28th April. I read The Glass House last year and I absolutely loved it so I was really excited when Michael Joseph invited me to be a part of this tour.

Eve Chase’s writing is absolutely beautiful, the way she weaves her story so that two separate timelines converge perfectly is just stunning.

We know from the start that something happened in the Summer of 1999, something that changed the lives of the three sisters Flora, Kat and Lauren forever. We know that although all half sisters, Flora and Kat were close but they were detached from Lauren, who only appeared in their lives when she was nine. Lauren isn’t on her own though, the housekeepers daughter Gemma, is a similar age to her and they get along well. Flora and Kat know what happened at the time of the solar eclipse, they were responsible, Lauren was a victim, but of what we are still to learn.

The tag line for this novel is “some stories need to be set free”, each of the girls is weighed down by secrets. For Kat and Flora it is secrets about what actually happened back in 1999. Today, all of the girls have secrets about what is going on in their lives. Why is Flora not answering the calls from her husband, why are a legal team constantly calling Kat, why is Lauren hiding the letters that she is writing to her friend?

Truth relies on perspective. It’s relative. If you live a life of pure, sheer truth, it’d be blinding, untenable, and every family would kill one another over Sunday lunch.

At the centre of all of this is Rock Point, the family home, the other characters that live there and the landscape itself. This novel honestly couldn’t be set anywhere other than Cornwall for it to have the same windswept impact. The house itself is imposing and gothic, although slightly neglected it is still grand.

And Flora can hear a slow drumbeat, which isn’t the waves, or her heart, but seems to be coming from the house itself, as if it were a sentient being.

Rock Point is home to the girls eccentric painter father, Charlie, and his parents in 1999, although they are no longer present in 2019. His father doesn’t play a major role in the novel but his mother, grandmother to the girls is ever present, as his her parrot, who is able to mimic people at the most inopportune moments. The parrot actually has a surprisingly central role in the novel, seeming to know exactly what is happening and what to say to cause the most disruption. The girls are desperate for their fathers love and affection, his attention. But he lives life on his own terms, not really paying any heed to the consequences of his actions. Hiding his own lies from all of them throughout the novel.

But Charlie Finch is not most people. He’s a Finch. He’s an artist. He has an ability to detach from his subjects, to see human beings as arrangements of form and flesh in space, volume and light a technical challenge to be solved.

While the girls are at Rock Point their father has asked them to sit for a painting, his most important, his daughters with a bird cage. His artwork, and particularly this painting are so important to the now, providing symbology of Charlie’s life. A birdcage is often used in both art and literature (think of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) as it symbolises loss of freedom, the flighty bird being caged and oppression of women. This is reflected in the storyline, we have 3 very different girls, each one being held within their gilded cage for different reasons. Flora by her family life, Kat by her business and Lauren by the past.

I had already guessed some of what was to come toward the end of this novel, but that didn’t take away from it at all. The joy was in the path to the end. The end was just the perfect wrap up of everything, it led exactly where it needed to and tied up things that had happened right at the start that I’d forgotten about.

Eve Chase is now an auto-buy author for me.


About Eve Chase

I’m an author who writes rich suspenseful novels about families – dysfunctional, passionate – and the sort of explosive secrets that can rip them apart. I write stories that I’d love to read. Mysteries. Page-turners. Worlds you can lose yourself in. Reading time is so precious: I try to make my books worthy of that sweet spot.

My office is a garden studio/shed. There are roses outside. I live in Oxford with my three children, husband, and a ridiculously hairy golden retriever, Harry.

Do say hello. Wave! Tweet me! I love hearing from readers.


Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Posted May 2, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta SepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Penguin UK on April 7, 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
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One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . . Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

Before this book was published I didn’t know anything about the treatments of Lithuanian’s during World War II, it amazes me that everyone knows about the treatment of the Jews during this period but they were by no means the only people who were mistreated. Having recently read Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet about the treatment of Chinese people living in the USA I was eager to get another insight into this period from a different perspective.

Knowing that this was about Lithuanian Prisoners of War during World War II, I thought I was prepared for it to be an emotional read. I was wrong, nothing could prepare me for how absolutely heart wrenching this novel is. Within pages of starting this book I was openly crying in public places, I couldn’t help myself and yet I couldn’t tear myself away, I was absolutely transfixed from the start and desperate to know what happened.

We start the novel as Lina, her mother and her brother are being taken from their home, their father has already disappeared days earlier. They are told nothing about where they are going or what to expect, but are taken to a railway station where they are forced to board a train with hundreds of others in appalling conditions. Within the carriage Sepetys introduces us to a number of characters who accompany Lina and her family throughout the novel, she does this with such skill that you grow to care about each of them, know their idiosyncrasies and really do feel the pain of all those involved. As a group they have to fight for their survival but also look out for one another and support each other through what is obviously the worst ordeal of their lives. The conditions on the train are horrific but this is only the start of the story, the trains are a means of transferring the prisoners to work camps where the fight for survival escalates. I actually started to worry about myself at this point in the novel, it was almost as though I had become anaesthetised to what they were going through, I calmed and went a couple of hours without tears. I think part of my calming was the determination, spirit and camaraderie that the prisoners showed. Even when they were suffering and there was little hope to be had, they clung to any glimmer of hope that could be found. The attitude of these people was unbelievably uplifting, in the UK in times of trouble people talk about the spirit of the blitz, although I’m sure it wasn’t a great time for anyone to live through the spirit of the blitz cannot even compare to the courage that is conveyed throughout this novel.

Just when you are thinking that things are as bad as they can get, the prisoners are again moved – to Siberia. For me, the thought of heading to Siberia now when I could take all manner of modern gizmo’s and clothing to keep me warm still isn’t appealing. For a malnourished, mistreated prisoner to be sent there in clothes they’d been wearing for years with no accommodation awaiting them at the other end is beyond comprehension. Yet still, they refuse to be broken and carry themselves with dignity at all times.
If I thought the start of Between Shades of Grey was emotional I was in for a shock at the end, I’m writing this review a week after finishing it and my eyes are welling up as I type, it was absolutely heart breaking.

This was a fabulous book, filled with raw emotion. For a horrific subject matter it was often shocking, but never unbearable to read. Sepetys is very eloquent in her storytelling and I loved the dignity and hope that was present throughout the novel.


About Ruta Sepetys

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.