The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

the art ofEssentially The Art of Not Breathing is about guilt, grief and loss. The focus is on Elsie and the way she deals with the death of her brother.

Everything revolves around water, because that is how Ethan disappeared. In the sea with plenty of people around, and yet he is still gone without a trace.

Elsie can’t really remember what happened that day. She is drawn to the water and the flashbacks she gets when she is at the last place Ethan was seen.

There is some element to being submerged, to diving under water and being unable to breathe, which initiates the flashbacks and memories. This realisation drives Elsie to push herself to the point of dangerous excursions and even beyond that.

The story is strangely compelling without being overly dramatic or too young adulty. It is interesting to note that the author hasn’t put much of an emphasis on the missing child. Instead it’s more about the family left behind and how grief can destroy relationships. Regardless of whether it is via neglect, anger, guilt or just overwhelming sadness.

I liked it, it was subtle and heartfelt without a lot of squee.

Buy The Art of Not Breathing at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz


Noa is swimming in a pool of grief and regret, and not all of it is her grief. Her beloved sister is dead and now she has to redefine herself as a person, in the family and in society. What or who is she without her elder sister?

Poetry features quite heavily in Shattered Blue. It is the Noa expresses her emotions, her pain and how she tells everyone what she is really feeling. It is what separates her from the masses and from the ghosts of the past.

When Callum steps into her life Noa knows there is something different about him, and that they have an unusual connection. I don’t think she was expecting it to be a supernatural one.

Fae wars and dysfunctional fae families are the focus of this story. The boundaries between the mortal world and the fae kingdom are moved and crossed. The family disagreement in one kingdom becomes a fight to the death in the mortal world.

In the midst of all of that Noa also discovers the flutterings of a new love or is it perhaps just a glamouring? Her heart seems to connect with someone completely different during the story, which suggests a heart divided or a lot of confusion on her part.

I wonder how or whether Horowitz will continue the sub-plot of the sister, who visits Noa with a persistence that borders on a haunting from a parallel world. Perhaps death is only a reality in the mortal world?

Looks like Noa’s journey with the fae boys, yes there is a second one, has only just begun.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier

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I think it is a home truth that we don’t really know how much we and our lives are impacted by certain people in our lives until we have to do without them. The death of Henry leaves ripples of waves in the lives of his family members, the local community, the people he connected with and the ones he kept hidden in the wings.

It is a year after his death and everyone is still trying to fill the gaps left by the sudden departure of Henry. His brother Larry is struggling to find his place after losing his wife and son after a nasty divorce. In his odd search for comfort he happens to find himself attracted to the one person, who has the ability to destroy what is left of his family.

Jeannie is obsessed with the secret life Henry had. She has this strange need to know why, and why that particular person. She spends her time placing the blame firmly on the living instead of on the dead.

Pelletier has also woven an important sub-plot into this story of loss, sorrow and guilt. The issue of domestic abuse and violent partners. The most important point the author makes is the way the abused is often treated like a liar, especially by other women when the abused is a woman. The abuser is more often than not a charming two-faced popular person, the type who doesn’t fit the criteria of abuser in most people’s heads.

Why is it so hard to believe someone in that kind of situation? Why does it have to happen again before someone steps in to help? What is it about abuse that make the abuser warrant more support and protection than the abused?

This is a tale of grief and how life goes on after the death of a loved one.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley


Where to start?  This is the type of book I personally would have enjoyed and embraced in my teens. Specifically when I was going through my own questioning of belief, faith, religion and eventually the subject of atheism, at the age of fourteen.

It is actually quite clever the way Daley has incorporated the main plot into the mystery and tragedy surrounding the death of the main character’s brother. Jonathan is consumed by his death of his brother or more specifically how it happened. He is not only convinced it was a homicide, he is also determined to prove it.

The reader meets fourteen year old Jonathan on day of his brothers unfortunate death. He happens upon a strange figure playing imaginary football with himself. The person calls himself Jesus Jackson, and apart from his John Travolta Saturday Night Fever get-up, he looks the part of Jesus. All long scraggly hair, unkempt beard and buckets full of wisdom.

One automatically assumes he is a figment of the young boys imagination. An apparition brought on by the trauma, the stress and the confusion of the tragic events. Is it a hallucination or is this a divine message? Perhaps the man himself or a sidekick promising a 100% satisfaction guaranteed deal. The restoration of faith.

Now how exactly does one go about doing that with somebody who does not believe in the existence of any type of god? That is the crux of the plot, and a damn fine one it is.

It isn’t about proving or disproving the existence of anything or anyone. I will leave you to find out exactly what Jonathan finds out about himself and what he believes in.

This is an excellent read, one I recommend for both younger and older readers. It challenges the wee grey cells and perhaps help to clarify the murky waters of belief and faith.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs


Daisy Bellamy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Two men eager to make her their own and she is stuck in the middle having a hard time making a decision. Logan is the reliable, comfortable option.  He is the father of her child and has been a permanent fixture in her life for many years.

Julian is the free-spirited wild child, He fits the description of the bad boy persona perfectly. He also just happens to be the one who makes Daisy’s heart pound with excitement.

So, what to do? Pick the dependable one or pick the one your heart yearns for? Unfortunately the choice she makes becomes irrelevant when fate steps in to change the course of her plans. Heartbreak and misery decide for her instead.

One day a happy bride to be and a moment later an unhappy frustrated wife. As if that wasn’t enough to cope with Daisy then gets some news that threatens to throw her right back into the deepest pit, despite it being so-called happy news.

This is certainly a box of mixed chocolates when it comes to emotions. Is sort of questions whether we are able to pick the right Mr Right for ourselves or are just victims of our own emotional roller-coaster rides, depending on our circumstances and expectations.

It also bandied around the subject of whether parents, who can’t live as a couple, should stay together for the child’s sake. Duty, honour and a sense of responsibility aren’t enough to create a happy home or family. Unhappy families create unhappy children. Sometimes it is better to live apart and be two loving but separate parents than be together and drown in frustration.

Poor Daisy flits from one to the other trying to salvage her relationships and rectify past mistakes. It is a bumpy and long road for this particular romance.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and MIRA UK.