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Ask Again, Yes By Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes‘Ask Again, Yes’ is the latest book by Mary Beth Keane.

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone. It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

This book is a story of friendship and new beginnings that spans many years. Peter and Kate were next door neighbours who were best friends, but their friendship was tragically cut short. Separated by distance, they often think of each other and find no one else in their lives live up to each other.

The story is tenderly written and speaks carefully about mental health and the repercussions it can have so many lives, as well as dealing with forgiveness overcoming fear. The setting of the small town of Gilliam gives the story a claustrophobic feel where everyone knows your business and always quick to judge. The narrative is primarily seen from Peter and Kate and this gives a lovely insight into them getting older but all the while, thinking about the person who made the most impact on their lives.

A story that explores a lifetime of love and proves that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, ‘Ask, Again Yes’ is a beautifully written story touching on family, drama and betrayal that made for gripping reading.

You can buy ‘Ask, Again, Yes’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Win A Copy Of The Girl At The Window By Rowan Coleman

The Girl In The WindowI’ve a copy of Rowan Coleman’s new book called ‘The Girl At The Window’ to give away to one lucky person.

What the back cover says –

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

To be in with a chance of winning this book, simply answer the below question by leaving your answer in comment box below by Monday 19th August 2019.

What is the name of Trudy’s house?

To find out more about ‘The Girl At The Window’, check out my review.

The Homeless Heart-Throb Book Tour – The Neighbourhood

Crystal Jeans

On the book tour for Crystal Jeans’ new book called ‘The Homeless Heart-Throb’, read about about the neighbourhood that Crystal lived in and the people that inspired the characters.

I was very surprised, upon moving to Pontypridd, that it’s not the shit hole Cardiff people judge it to be. It’s surrounded by lush green hills and its people are so friendly and chatty that it sometimes unnerves me. When I first visited the house to do meter readings, I met my neighbour from three doors away, Ann, an eighty-year-old Shirley Bassey fan. She asked about my ‘partner’ and I, being a coward, played Dodge the Pronoun. Because Pontypridd, that ultimate turkey, voted for Brexit, I assumed it was full of bigots (it might well be).

A few days later, Ann met my ‘partner’ and barely blinked. Maybe she’d become immune? Pontypridd is rammed with lesbians – they are almost as numerous as small blond boys on bikes doing wheelies.
My new novel, ‘The Homeless Heart-throb’, is about a street and its inhabitants. A neighbourhood. So let’s talk about neighbours.

Growing up in Mynachdy, my next door neighbour was the Purvoe family. A huge gooseberry bush hung over our garden fence, belonging to the Purvoes, and me and my sister would sneak up and pick the gooseberries, only to find we were being watched from the shadows by the creepy father. We told our mum and she said we should call him Purvoe the Pervert. In all fairness to him, we were stealing his fruit.

On the other side of us was a big multiracial family – a blonde white woman who was on disability (everyone thought she was faking it) and her black husband and 5 or 6 good-looking children. I used to spy on the boys through the garden fence (they were boring). A few doors down lived the man who had, according to rumours, sexually abused his daughter and gone to prison for it.

Mostly what I remember about this cul-de-sac is all the miserable old men. They had an intolerance for children (especially, seemingly, young girls) and my mum was always knocking on their doors to give them a bollocking after they’d called me a hussy or a bitch just for standing too close to their parked vans. These days there are less children out playing, and according to my mother, who still lives there, the young adults of yesteryear have turned into miserable old bastards themselves. Garden fences, once chest height, have been replaced by seven-foot pickets and lined with tall trees.

I am not moralising about the diminishing of community here. I value privacy.

The Homeless Heart-throb

Actually, I probably am moralising about the diminishing of community. It sucks.

From the age of 18 I lived in my nan’s house on Banastre Avenue. On one side lives a Greek family, the matriarch who recently died in a gruesome road accident while holidaying in Crete. I remember her washing line getting caught up in our fir tree and helping her untangle her bra from its spiky branches. I couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed or not. The widower keeps his garden gorgeous and has an aviary full of canaries and lovebirds (my cats once snuck in and killed one). The daughter is sometimes friendly and sometimes cold, and it’s like that in the whole street. The only exceptions are the African family two doors down, who are consistently unfriendly (I long ago stopped smiling at them as we passed in the street, partly because the smile would not be returned, also because I was worried my keenness to display friendliness was some sort of micro-aggression) and the Indian family opposite, who are consistently warm.

Actually, the white man from number one is also friendly, but since he shoots pigeons with an air rifle from his bathroom window, I’d rather he wasn’t.

Next door on the other side there used to live a Portuguese family who similarly ran hot and cold (I am aware that I’m no picnic myself). Once, the woman, an artist, asked us to feed her animals while they went on holiday, and when she got back, we told her the cat had an eye infection and should go to the vet. She looked horrified at the idea. My family assumed that she didn’t care about her cat, and maybe this was a cultural thing. Years later I befriended her and learned she was a lovely hippy – a bongo-drumming, anti-vaccine, kefir-brewing, homeopathic hippy with social anxiety and a distrust of big pharma. Lesson learned.

I based the character of chapter three’s Estela on this woman, lazily changing her nationality to Spanish. I knew nothing about her at this point – she was, fittingly, a blank canvas (fitting because she has artist’s block). I made her a secret opiate user. Then, when reading through early drafts of The Homeless Heart-throb, I realised that most of the characters were drug addicts or alcoholics (write what you know!). To have so many addicts crammed into one tiny street seemed far-fetched. I re-wrote some characters, changing an illicit thrill for Tramadol to a craving for Dr Pepper. But you know what? Who knows? Who fucking knows what our neighbours are getting up to?

My next door neighbour in Pontypridd is an oldish couple who look, according to my partner, like a Roald Dahl version of Santa Claus and Mrs Claus. Ann has become Glam Ann, because of her fabulous sense of style. On the right is a family – mum, dad, teenagers. I know nothing about these people. They have yet to give up their secrets, I to give up mine. Perhaps it’s just as well their garden fence is obscured by hedges.

You can buy ‘The Heartless Heart Throb’ from Amazon.

The Moments By Natalie Winter

The Moments‘The Moments’ is the debut book by Natalie Winter.

What if you get on the wrong bus, or don’t speak to the right person at a party, or stay in a job that isn’t for you? Will you miss your one chance at happiness? Or will happiness find you eventually, when the moment is right?

Meet Matthew and Myrtle. They have never really felt like they fitted – in life or with anyone else. But they are meant to be together – if only they can find each other.

I started reading this book on Sunday morning and finally put it down at 1 minute past midnight a complete sobbing story.

This story is seen through the perspective of Myrtle and Matthew and it follows their lives from birth until the very end. Myrtle is a kind and caring woman, the daughter of a broken relationship, her mother finds love with another woman whilst her father watches from the sidelines. Myrtle’s relationship with her mother is a turbulent one and often Myrtle finds herself turning to her mother’s partner Patti for support. Whilst Matthew’s marriage has perfect until his father was in a motorbike accident leaving him brain damaged and dependent on help. As the story progresses, we see the pair go through live experiencing illnesses, relationships, deaths and drama, all the whilst people are finding the one and they are both wondering if their will ever come.

I really loved this story even though it did break my heart. Both characters are relatable and fascinating in their ways, with their complicated families and journey for finding their places in life. The story is written fluidly through the years and really keeps the reader on their toes particularly as the pair of them get older. The chapters are short and snappy so it’s very easy to get absorbed in the book. I did find myself rushing through the book to see when Myrtle and Matthew would meet and when it happens, I did feel my heart sing with delight! But throughout the story, there are a few close encounters, which are bittersweet.

A stunning and powerful debut about love, near misses and the moments that really make us, ‘The Moments’ is a tender and emotional story that really pulls the reader in and appreciate the small things in life

You can pre-order ‘The Moments’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 8th August.

Off-Island By Marlene Hauser

Off-Island ‘Off-Island’ is the latest book by Marlene Hauser.

Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother. When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her. This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help. Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined…

Although I found this book to be an interesting tale, I found it sometimes to be an unsettling story as the lead character battled with emotions and morals as she decided to have an abortion. A difficult decisison to make, we follow the young woman called Krista as she disappears to try to clear her head whilst talking to the dead people in her life, including the baby. As Krista returns to her childhood home, we reflects on times that were much easier and didn’t require the responsibility that she’s suddenly faced with.

The story is quite short, at only 166 pages long could be considered more of a novella than a novel and was easy to consume in one sitting. I found Krista to be quite a complex character, she excludes those close to her and still has never really recovered from the sudden death of her father and all the emotions seem to come flooding back to her as she deals with the abortion and the what if of life.

‘Off-Island’ is a beautifully written and descriptive story giving the reader a clear mindset into Krista’s mind. An emotive and claustophobic tale of loss and grief, this book is a reflective story of the consequences of decisions and the actions you make in life.

You can buy ‘Off-Island’ from Amazon