The Museum of You by Carys Bray

About this book…

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

My review…

I was attracted to this book from the description and that fact that so many people had recommended it after they had read Carys Brays previous book, A Song for Issy Bradley. I haven’t read that but after finishing The Museum of You, it will certainly be added to my wishlist as I just adore the way this author writes! She is a natural storyteller and her words flow so beautifully that sometimes I just had to read as slow as I possibly could just to make sure I got every single ounce of pleasure from them.

This story of Clover Quinn, who lost her mother when she was only six weeks old, is a stunning insight into love, loss and grief but also family and the many forms that takes. Twelve year old Clover and her father Darren take the main roles, taking us through the journeys of their lives without Becky and it felt rather like a coming of age drama for both of them and not just Clover. Having not had a mother around Clover has become very self sufficient but rather lonely too. She has also become rather interested in museums after visiting local ones in her home city of Liverpool (great descriptions of the Titanic exhibition) so she decides, after discovering her mother’s belongings in the spare bedroom, to create exhibits in her own museum as a tribute to her mother.

This book could have become a melting pot of sentimentality and drama but with Carys Brays clever use of prose it never became saccharine sweet or over emotional. In fact, I found it incredibly down to earth especially with its little realistic family foibles. I started to write down all the little phrases that tickled me but stopped when I realised that I just loved ALL of them (the way the mother’s were described as Russian dolls was one of my favourites though). There were a couple of times I did tear up a little bit and those were times that the author touched on my own feelings of being a parent. When Darren was asked the question about the last time he picked his daughter up my heart just skipped a beat as I had never thought about that before-that one day it’s the last time you will ever carry your child but you just don’t know it at the time. I certainly had a lump in my throat after that. I thought that the character creations are just so amazing, my favourite being Mrs Mackerel (I can see the older me in her which is probably not as scary as that sounds!) Her little sayings had me constantly chuckling away to myself throughout. And anyone who feeds their visitors up on Tunnocks teacakes is alright by me (although I just wanted to add that there is no jam in that make of teacake!)

It was the little things that brought this story together because that is life and it isn’t until you look back that you realise the little things were really the big things, as they say! This book has probably been one of my highlights of the year so far as I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting- I didn’t read it, I experienced it! And a wonderful experience it was too.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

The Museum of You is available to buy now from Amazon UK

A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson

About this book..

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes.
DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

My review..

It takes quite a lot to render me speechless (unfortunately says my family!) but this book did just that. There was a moment near the end that I switched off to everything around me as I wanted to give everything I had as a reader to the final few pages of the book that is definitely going to be in my Top 10 of 2016. There was a highly emotional ending to this crime thriller that I truly did not see coming and my heart literally missed a beat when I saw exactly where this plot had been heading.

This book starts off like one of those creepy horror films that I pretend I don’t mind watching but end up seeing more of the back of a cushion than my tv screen! Terri Latham is at home when she hears a tapping at her door. She dismisses it as a plant blowing in the wind but it keeps going and starts tapping at a different location. Scared, she opens the door to find a large raven and then things get seriously creepy as she realises the raven is not alone….

This book is the first in a new series for author David Jackson. After the success of his Callum Doyle series (which is amazing if you haven’t read it- especially Cry Baby!) he has moved closer to home with DS Nathan Cody, who lives and works in Liverpool. I love the fact that Liverpool has its own detective series now-its a fascinating city that I love visiting-full of character, with many cultural references used by the author here to great effect. Nathan is a fantastically complex character who has a past that is hinted at but doesn’t become clear until later in the book. I have no doubt his relationship with his dysfunctional family will provide us with plenty of drama in future books! As, I’m sure, will his partnership with DC Megan Webley, a former girlfriend now working alongside Nathan as they try to solve the mystery of who is murdering fellow police officers.

This book has been plotted to perfection! The level of tension created by that first chapter was sky high! It introduces us to a main character who is flawed but incredibly likeable. And that is one of the main reasons that this series will work well-we are made to really care about this fictional policeman! I felt very protective of him right from the start, rather like DCI Stella Blunt, and wanted to shout “NOOOOO!” whenever he seemed set on another path of self destruction! I was so totally engrossed in the plot from page one that I didn’t even see where it was going until it slapped me in the face! I found it difficult reading the last few pages, for reasons I won’t go into, and I know that many people will feel the same but it was handled perfectly.

A Tapping at my Door is a fantastic start to this new series and I hope we don’t have too long to wait before the next instalment (I am so impatient-every authors nightmare!) I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see what scrapes Nathan Cody gets himself into next.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Out on April 7th 2016

Available to pre-order here