THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS by Jodi Picoult

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways–the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?


Title : The Book of Two Ways
Author : Jodi Picoult
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2 – 2.5 star review

This was a very frustrating read for me. I intially liked the story and the concept but over the first half, I became disillusioned with the plot and the over academic approach to the Egyptology storyline. As the title indicates, The Book of Two Ways narrates two diverging stories or possibilities for Dawn.

Dawn was a death doula and having some insight into this role through my professional life, I can say that this aspect of the story was well researched. However, I prefer not to be immersed in death and dying in fiction because it consumes a lot of my day job, so that may explain my dislike in part. I didn’t love the storyline of Win because of the reasons I’ve just explained.

I did enjoy parts of the Egypt timeline/storyline but I think readers will either love or hate this because again, it is written is significant academic depth which isn’t really what you expect of women’s fiction. What I did like was Dawn as a character, a women who’d lost her way and identity. I didn’t always like her choices but I did champion her and Wyatt.

I tend to either love or dislike Jodi Picoult’s books and unfortunately this one was the latter. I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this though.

BLOG TOUR – THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND by Ayesha Malik

Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?

For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.

Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.

Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.


Title : This Green and Pleasant Land
Author : Ayisha Malik
Format : eARC/ALC
Page Count : 464
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre
Release Date : October 1, 2020 (paperback)

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a poignant, real and sometimes witty story about legacy, identity, community separation and togetherness. THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND centred on community and family. This was an own voices exploration of muslim main characters navigating an often stuffy English village life. It was enjoyable and kept my attention most of the time.

Bilal and his family were navigating a recent bereavement, deathbed promises and guilt built on top of that legacy. Bilal decided that this promise to build a mosque in his little patch of England would be followed through and the journey to seeing this to fruition was the meat of this story. The characters around Bilal, his family, his community connections were witty and rich, full of prejudice and yet sometimes supportive. These characters were an eclectic mix and some were just plain eccentric.

What engaged me most was the laughs it brought to me as I identified with the struggles that Bilal had with the people around him and just how hard this goal would be to achieve. The descriptions and dialogue were rich and vibrant. The story gentle wove the familial and community philosophies, prejudices and politics into everyday life; just as it really is. An enjoyable read.

I had a eARC and audio review copy and so I did a combination read of both. The narration was good throughout and captured the nuances of the characters and dialogue, so I would recommend both formats.

Thank you to Compulsive Readers Tours and Zaffre for the early review copies.

THE RETURN by Nicholas Sparks

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a moving new novel about an injured army doctor and the two women whose secrets will change the course of his life.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while preparing for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Claiming to be 17, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. Discovering that she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues – until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could have ever anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.


Title : The Return
Author : Nicholas Sparks
Format : eARC
Page Count : 296
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Sphere
Release Date : September 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Nicholas Sparks excels on the quirky, small-town feel with this book. He created some rather ordinary characters, at first glance uninteresting and at second glance, they were everything I wanted to read.

The protagonist Trevor, recovering veteran and retired doctor had a life that was secluded, involved focus on recovery, health and bees. Bees…honestly, I adored this aspect of the story, the foundation and focus it brought to all the characters in the book . And my favourite character? Trevor’s grandpa, what a man. Alongside Trevor, there were a small cast of characters and they were all interesting, especially Natalie and Callie.

This was a story of why a loved one died mid-adventure and what he was up to, who was Callie and why was she so closed up and why was Natalie the way she was. It was a tale cleverly woven together, I felt like I almost got there with some of my guesses but they were just out of reach. When the reveals came, I was all ‘oh my’.

I actually only acrued two cry counts for this Sparksy. I don’t cry easily at books but Sparks can usually eek out a little more from me. That said, I was glad not to be a weeping wreck.

THE RETURN was a generally enjoyable, quirky, small-town story with grief, illness, bees, romance and that signature lament. It was pretty wholesome and it left a good feeling on completion.

Thank you to Sphere, Little Brown UK for the early review copy.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE by Lia Louis

In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over


Title : Dear Emmie Blue
Author : Lia Louis
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Trapeze Books
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

This is my summer read of 2020. FACT.

I picked up this DEAR EMMIE BLUE and I could not put it down, at all. Okay, there were moments to pause, look at the wall and process my feelings but that was the only break I took. This book had a light start followed a sneak attack of of more serious themes that were all fabulous-ness. DEAR EMMIE BLUE had characters to cling onto, a story that sunk me into immersion and it was one that made me hope like mad for Emmie.

At first, Emmie made me wonder if she was weak, a sap, the loyal friend being trampled on. Little did I know Emmie, because as I grew to know her better, she had such depth of spirit, a fighting character and that loyalty of hers was amazing. I came to adore her, cheer for her and want the best of things for her.

Emmie had a very quiet and hard working life, an absolute mess of parental proportions and a past trauma to navigate. She was supported in all things by Lucas and the Moreau family as a whole, but Lucas’ brother was a loyal friend, in the background, full of integrity. I’m saying nothing more because the whole story is orientated around these friendships. The story is rich, deep and wonderful with a good slice of heartache.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE had me feeling all the emotions, brimming over my kindle, onto my tissue (at times) and into my friend’s DMs. This book was written so well, so balanced with character development to die for, story to be wrapped up in and all of the feels. I am completely bowled over by it and I want to sing from the rooftops about how good it is. So good, you just have to read and discover it for yourself. Lia Louis wrote beautifully, realistically and with heart, I am dying to devour more from her.

Don’t come into this expecting all light, come in to this and fasten your seat belt…you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Trapeze Books for the early review copy.

THE SHELF by Helly Acton


Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.

So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it — he’s going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.

Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’.

Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?

A funny, feminist and all-too-relatable novel about our obsession with coupling up, settling down and the battle we all have with accepting ourselves, The Shelf introduces the freshest new voice in women’s fiction. 


Title : The Shelf
Author : Helly Acton
Narrator : Daisy Edgar-Jones
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date : July 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did considering I’m not a fan of reality shows but with the protagonist, Amy as an insider and almost a victim of the show, this was super clever. A great concept, good writing and fantastic narration, THE SHELF turned out to be a winner for me.

I mostly listened to the audio on this one but also a little ebook (ARC) too at night when I just had to carry on with the story. This story is a woman in a relationship’s worst nightmare of dumping alongside a reality TV show. It provoked some serious irritation in me on behalf of Amy but this was an unfolding story, with character development and resilience to come. It was also a story of sisterhood and I really appreciated that.

What stopped this from feeling a too tragic or morose was the with which Helly Acton told the story. Amy had an awakening and with that came a more quippy character who could laugh at herself and her outlook on life. I love a flawed character (aren’t we all) and Amy delivered on that. I would have loved to have known a bit more about the red flag development in the epilogue. The other characters in the house brought a fair bit of hilarity.

What was a constant theme was the misogyny underwriting the whole of the TV show, get ready to feel irritated and incensed by that. I have to admit the whole time I was listening, I was imagining the big brother house and that helped me.

The narration was exceptional and if you’re a fan of Normal People from Netflix you will recognise Daisy Edgar-Jones voice. She brought character, tonation and spirit to this listen and she brought the characters alive.

I’m not 100% certain what genre to call it but I’m not sure that’s important, however I’d go with contemporary women’s fiction. It’s definitely a read to pick up and a great debut from Helly Acton.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for the ALC.

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.


Title : Ask Again, Yes
Author : Mary Beth Keane
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Penguin Michael Joseph
Release Date : August 8, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


3.5 – 4 stars

ASK AGAIN, YES is something of a heavy read with challenging topics; I felt like I had completed a marathon when I’d finished but I mean that in a good way. The book had wrung me out emotionally and I needed time to rest my mind and think afterwards.

This is a complex story of two families across two generations. Their lives were so interwoven and yet they were not close to one another. Through proximity, circumstance, tragedy and then attraction, they were repeatedly brought together and pushed one another away.

The storyline starts with the parents of these two families but over the whole of the book, it felt like the story centred on Peter and Kate. I held my breath over these two and I didn’t feel a completion at the end; I don’t think the reader is supposed to. Anne was incredibly difficult to like as a character and I admire the author for where she went with mental illness and this character. We rarely see books that will go to the extent of exposing the psychology and behaviours of someone with this level of illness. I liked Francis, I found him solid, reliable and real. George was the unsung hero of this book.

Most readers will feel the heaviness of the topics expored in this book, which include acute psychosis, addiction, cheating, first love, the effect of trauma on the psyche, grief and loss and abandonment. It’s a lot but it didn’t feel unrealistic for the timescale, the range of characters and the narrative gently and sometimes bluntly led you into these issues with skill.

This was an impressive, memorable and epic story. I felt a lack of completion overall and needed a bit more in terms of closure. Mary Beth Keane wrote the complexity with simplicity and I would read her work again.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.