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Fabulous Finn, by Dave Wardell with Lynne Barrett-Lee

If you’re a dog lover you might already have come across Finn, the superhero police dog who saved his handlers life and took a life threatening knife to the chest.

I had seen Finn and handler Dave Wardell’s story on the television some time ago then more recently came across them on Twitter where I discovered that their incredible story, Fabulous Finn was about to be published.

So I put in my order on Amazon and within a couple of weeks the publishing date arrived and Fabulous Finn dropped through my letterbox.

If Fabulous Finn had been a work of fiction it would have moved me just as much as it has done knowing it’s a true story because it is written so beautifully – just how I would imagine having a chat with Dave himself might be. It recounts the events of the terrible day Finn and Dave were attacked whilst crime fighting and follows Finn’s subsequent recovery. It’s not for the faint hearted and you will need tissues. I full on sobbed several times over the course of the book. It left me feeling so proud of Finn and Dave and I don’t even know them.

But this is not just a story of a policeman and his dog, nor is it just a story of the twelve year old boy who made it his mission to work with dogs. It’s not just a tale of triumph over adversity in Finn’s recovery. No. It’s so much more. It delivers a message. And the message is that the law in relation to service dogs needs to change in this country. For once you’ve read this remarkable tale of a man and his dog, you’ll discover that the assailant who attacked Finn received zero punishment for the terrifying wounds he inflicted on him. And that’s because in law Finn is regarded as ‘property’ and not as the sentient heroic being he so clearly is.

If you’ve ever loved a dog, if you’ve ever connected with a pet, you’ll know that they are far from property. Finn’s Law aims to change things and give service dogs the recognition, courtesy and respect they deserve. Finn saved Dave’s life that day. Police dogs go to work each day and they serve and protect. Finn’s story is a timely reminder when news headlines are dominated by knife crime that life is fragile and special and important whether you’re human or canine. Out of all my book reviews so far this year, this is the one that matters the most.

So if you’ve got a minute, type ‘Finns Law’ into Twitter, better still follow @davewardell, maybe even buy the brilliantly engaging book Fabulous Finn and read this incredible story. Or of course you could even engage with the campaign for Finns Law directly at finnslaw.com

 

 

One Thousand Stars And You, by Isabelle Broom

Coming soon to a book shop near you is One Thousand Stars And You, by Isabelle Broom.

I hugged my kindle when I finished this one. What a heart warming, lovely read. It’s one of those you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf. I might even buy it in paperback so I can do just that – the front cover is just gorgeous. Oh and I’d also like a sequel please Isabelle if that’s not too much trouble!

Alice, Maur and Steph celebrate their impending thirtieth birthdays with a life-changing celebratory trip to Sri Lanka. When the girls meet ex-soldier Max and his buddy Jamal they settle easily together as a cheery little band of happy travellers. Back home, Alice’s mum and Alice’s fiancé Richard are worrying themselves silly. They’re hoping she’s being sensible. What if something happens to her?

It’s a lovely gentle read for a summer’s weekend. The characters are likeable and Alice’s personal journey is one that will resonate with readers enormously.

Now that I’ve discovered her I’m looking forward to reading more from Isabelle Broom. I give this one an additional five stars to add to the one thousand in the title. With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for this advance review copy.

Gracie’s Secret, by Jill Childs (available summer 2018)

This book review starts with a wow! A big huge emotional and overwhelming WOW! I’m reading two books a week at the moment and I genuinely didn’t think that at this stage, and with 600 downloaded books on my Kindle that I would come across a piece of writing that would move me the way Gracie’s Secret has.

Gracie is three. On an average day during an everyday journey Gracie is involved in a horrific car accident that leaves her fighting for her life and having to be resuscitated by paramedics. Only Auntie Ella, who was driving the car knows what really happened but as Gracie recounts details of the journey and the events immediately afterwards her Mum, Jen realises there is more to her ex husband’s new girlfriend than meets the eye.

Jen is a woman of intensity. Her precious bond with Gracie and a blossoming romance with Doctor Matt dominate the weeks and months after the accident. But something is off. Jen just can’t get past what happened to her little girl and Ella’s involvement in it. Ella is hiding something and Jen is determined to find out what it is.

It’s a heartbreaking and thought provoking tale of a mother’s overwhelming and all encompassing love for her daughter.

I honestly thought I knew where this story was going but a couple of twists had me fooled and then there’s a huge, clever reveal that I simply didn’t see coming and it absolutely floored me.

It’s a rare and beautiful thing to be moved to tears by a story that also makes you reflect long after the book is finished and Gracie’s Secret delivers on this in abundance.

Loved it. So it gets five gently twinkling stars. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the chance to review this prior to general release. I hope it’s a giant success for the author.

Review: Vox, by Christina Dalcher (available Aug 2018)

Imagine. You’re a top neurolinguist in a near present dystopian US where men matter most. You have 100 words per day in which to be heard. Reverend Carl’s devastating Pure Movement has all but silenced women. However now they need YOU to deliver a cure for aphasia. Something is amiss. You fear for your life and the lives of loved ones. How far will you go to protect them? Can anyone bring Pure to its knees and in doing so will they have to make the ultimate sacrifice?

It’s superb. I give it five chartbusting stars. It will leave you feeling outraged and alarmed. You’ll want to ….. (DANGER 100-word limit exceeded)

Review: The Hideaway by Sheila O’Flanagan

I’ve been reading some fantastic but quite dark, harrowing and complex stories just lately so The Hideaway by Sheila O’Flanagan was the perfect antidote and an absolute breath of summery fresh air.

A double whammy of heartbreak and tragedy hits radiographer Juno for six and she takes time out in Spain to heal. Pretty soon her troubled soul is calmed by Villa Naranja, a cat called Banquo, and the local Beniflor community. With her heart on the mend, (in no small part due to a little romance with pool guy Pep) a phone call out of the blue threatens to disturb the fragile new balance in Juno’s world. How will she react and will she return happily to life back home or stay on in sunny Spain?

This is a sit out in the sunshine with a Pimms read. Just make sure you have a few hours to enjoy it, as you won’t want to put it down. You can’t fail to love central character Juno or the atmosphere of Villa Naranja and it’s a lovely read that will make you smile.

Thank you to NetGalley and Headline for the advance copy. I thoroughly recommend The Hideaway and give it five sangria laced shimmering stars. Why not add it to your bookshelf when it’s published in a couple of weeks on 17 May 2018.

Review: The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola at first glance might appear niche in terms of its subject matter, which concerns folklore and fairy tales from the Isle of Skye crofting community. However, there is far more to this story than initially meets the eye so stop and take a look, don’t pass it by!

Story keeping enthusiast Audrey Hart has a keen, inherited interest in Skye folklore and is employed by the reclusive Miss Buchanan to document the folk tales from the somewhat evasive and tight-lipped locals readying them for publishing.

During her time at Lanerly, Audrey discovers the body of a girl washed ashore. Local girls are disappearing. The crofting community is cautious and untrusting. Is this the magic of the stories at work or something more present and sinister?

Woven into the folklore are stories of missing girls and the history of how Audrey’s mother came to be on the Isle of Skye and how she met her sad demise.

The Story Keeper is a period novel, dating back to the 1850s. The writing is incredibly descriptive. It’s dark, brooding and atmospheric which enhances the mood of the story hugely. I wasn’t expecting twisty so I was surprised that towards the end the plot had me gripped and turning the pages ever quicker.

This one is not my usual read by any means and I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen it whilst bookshop browsing but I do feel I’d have missed out if I’d passed it by. I really enjoyed it. It’s well written and unusual and perfect if you’re looking for something a little different.

So it’s four slightly eerie, dark and moody stars from me. Thank you Headline and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel prior to publishing (July 2018)  I’m sure it will be a big hit.

 

Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart is the new psychological thriller by best selling author of Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough. It’s due for release in May 2018 and let me just start by saying that it completely delivers.

It’s Lisa’s story. Lisa is the polite, friendly, unassuming and slightly over protective Mum of Ava. Ava is sixteen, thinks she knows everything and is at a time in her life when the world holds opportunity and the potential for love and excitement.

Although the mother / teenager relationship initially appears pretty standard there’s much hidden. Multiple narrators in Lisa, Ava and Lisa’s friend Marilyn tell the story. Lisa’s story is also divided into three timelines, Before, After and Now. It sounds complicated but it’s honestly not and the story weaves seamlessly from one timeline to the next.

In the here and now, keen swimmer Ava heroically rescues a child in a near drowning incident and secrets hidden deep in the past are upended, revealing a tragedy that ripped friendships apart and completely changed lives.

The three main characters are completely credible. They are both vulnerable and strong, feisty and at the same time helpless and each carries their own burden. Intriguingly, the male characters in this story are mostly abusive or untrustworthy which brings into question the motivation of the only one who isn’t.

It’s a gripping story of women and struggle, of love and friendship, of secrets, betrayal and lies.

The story questions stereotypes of poverty and extreme abuse versus stability, normality and relative prosperity.

I give it five stars because it’s original, disturbing, harrowing, twisty and complex. Don’t miss it!

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK, HarperFiction for the opportunity to preview this book prior to publishing date.