blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Museum of Lost Love – Gary Barker*

In Zagreb is an unusual museum: it displays mementos of broken relationships. Each exhibit describes a unique story of a broken heart, of love gone awry.

When Katia and Goran visit the museum, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen. A reminder of two days spent together while he and his mother and brother waited anxiously for visas to America to escape the war.

Encouraged by Katia, a therapist, to reconnect with his lost past, Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars. Similarly Katia, adopted by Americans at one week old after her birth mother was murdered in a gangland killing in Brazil, heads back to Brazil to uncover her own family history.

Meanwhile Tyler, a military veteran and one of Katia’s patients, attempts to put the Afghan war behind him, and finds love in unexpected circumstances.

Drawing upon his own experiences working in conflict zones, Gary Barker’s powerful novels dive deep into human love and longing. Crossing continents, and set against backdrops of war, deprivation, and violence, The Museum of Lost Love is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.

GARY BARKER is an author, researcher, and human rights activist. He is founder and director of Promundo, an international organization that works with men and boys in more than 25 countries to achieve gender equality and end violence against women. He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his work in conflict zones. His previous novels include Luisa’s Last Words, Mary of Kivu, and The Afghan Vampires Book Club (co-written with Michael Kaufman). Barker lives in Washington, DC.

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My thoughts:

I remember reading a piece in the newspaper about the museum at the heart of this book, a place where people send in things that remind them of lost loves. Weaving in between the narratives of Katia, Goran and Tyler, are those of the displays in the museum.

Katia and Goran both look into their own pasts to find answers to questions they didn’t admit to having; while Tyler is trying to look forward, putting his new life and son first, moving on from his wartime experiences.

Each goes on a journey, literally and figuratively into themselves in order to find a way forward, to put lost loves to right and find out who they truly are.

Goran returns to Bosnia and seeks out first his father and then his first love, filling in the past, both of his country and the people he left behind.

Katia goes in search of her birth mother’s family, and finds not only that she is part of a family but also a tragic history.

Finally Tyler unexpectedly finds himself in love and raising the son he never knew he had, when tragedy strikes and he discovers the man he really is.

This book is slight but powerful, love is an incredibly potent emotion and Barker looks at all its forms; from familial, to sexual and innocent romance. He is interested in how people interact and the importance of someone’s capacity to sustain themselves.

The characters are well written and believable, the plots intersect nicely and flow well, swapping comfortably between the three protagonists without any jarring.

I found it an interesting way to look at violent parts of history (the war in Sarajevo, the gang violence in Brazil’s favelas, the recent conflict in Afghanistan) and show that love can blossom even under the shadow of such tragedy and suffering.

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Her Last Promise – Kathryn Hughes*

Her Last Promise - Cover .jpg

Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.

Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet’s destiny, in the most unexpected of ways…

Kathryn Hughes Author Pic .jpg

Kathryn Hughes was born in Altrincham, near Manchester. After completing a secretarial course, Kathryn met her husband and they married in Canada. For twenty-nine years they ran a business together, raised two children and travelled when they could to places such as India, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. Kathryn and her family now make their home in a village near Manchester. Her first novel, The Letter, was a Kindle Number One bestseller.

My thoughts:

This is the beach read of the summer – honestly the perfect book to accompany you on holiday. From cold windy Britain to the sweeping vistas of Spain, Tara’s journey to find out the truth of what became of her mother is gripping and takes you off on a journey. Which is what the author specialises in. I read her first book ‘The Letter’ and it does the same thing but doesn’t travel quite so far. ‘Her Last Promise’ is a love story – but not a conventional one, being between a mother and daughter. The characters are warmly written, I love Alf btw, and feel realistic, the story is one of those that when it ends you sigh and go ‘oh that was lovely’. Honestly stick a copy in your beach bag and you won’t even notice when the sun goes in. My mum’s borrowed my copy for her two weeks in Greece!

Her Last Promise BT Poster .jpg

*I was kindly gifted this copy in exchange for joining the blog tour, however all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Cherries – D.B Carter*

When they have broken you, when you have been humiliated, bullied, deserted and destitute, can you find a place where you may dare to be happy?

Susan travels with her mother, escaping a life of heartbreak and poverty in the city, to live with their one remaining friend in a small rural village.

At twenty Susan is still bound by the trauma of her youth, but starts to blossom into womanhood, thanks to the tender encouragement of Luke, the eccentric occupant of ‘The Cherries’, who lives surrounded by books and art. It is a journey of tears and laughter, helping to heal mind and spirit.

But can the past ever be truly behind you?

Feeling safe and secure at last, mother and daughter nurture artistic talents that they had long since thought worthless, and their lives take directions they could never have imagined.

Yet, amongst the kindness and love in their new community, there lies hidden grief and a long-suppressed secret that must come to light. Something that might force Susan to another life beyond the confines of the village.

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D B Carter writes contemporary drama and romance novels, dealing with difficult subjects as well has happier themes. A son of two painters, he grew up surrounded by art and through that world, he met many interesting characters. Later, he ran his own successful company for over 20 years, before taking up his life-long desire to be a writer.
He lives with his wife of 30 years in rural Devon, England. A lifelong bibliophile, he loves reading classical literature, including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy and Anthony Trollope; a childhood of Saturday afternoon black-and-white movies added to his appreciation of sagas and drama.
His world view is, “If we look for the good, we will find it.”

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My thoughts:

This was a very thoughtful, moving book. The characters are well written and feel very real as they deal with life’s challenges and curveballs.

Susan’s life has been hard and she has struggled with it but on moving with her mum to a old friend’s home, she learns to trust people again and find her place in the world.

I found the characters, especially Susan, very relatable and empathetic.

The writing is crisp and inviting, flowing along well, taking you with it.

*this book was gifted to me in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Tulip Taylor – Anna Mainwaring*

Challenged to go on a `survival’ reality TV show, fifteen-year-old make-up vlogger Tulip only accepts to escape her mother’s money-making schemes and protect her younger brother and sister. Set up to fail, can she prove to the TV show, to Harvey – the cute but annoying boy who got her on there – and most importantly to herself, that she’s more than just a pretty face? As Tulip puts down her phone and heads for the hills, she finds she has both the courage and insight to take on each new challenge. But as ‘reality’ gets ever more crazy, will either teen escape their families and their time in the spotlight unscathed?

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Anna Mainwaring read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at the age of seven and hasn’t stop reading since. After studying English at university, she took the bizarre decision to follow a career in corporate banking. This made her sad so she left, went travelling and trained to be a teacher. When not teaching, writing or hiding from her children in the study, Anna can be found in bookshops, cafes or walking slowly up big hills.

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My thoughts:

This was a funny, wry contemporary YA novel through the lens of one teen’s determination to be more than just what she posts on social media.

Tulip is every 16 year old girl I’ve ever met; they are so much more than the stereotype (I used to work with children and young people). She’s funny, loyal, smart and brave. Her family are all over the place and she’s often driven to parenting her parents.

She’s also much more resourceful than she’s given credit for. And yes, she makes mistakes but so do we all. Anyone who says they have it all together at 16 is lying.

I am going to recommend this book to some of the teens I know (and their parents) to remind them how it’s ok to love Instagram and also learning, how it’s ok to make mistakes and not know everything. Tulip has a big heart and is a fantastic protagonist.

*I was gifted this book to review but all opinions remain my own.