The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

Publisher: Century

Publication Date: 21st July 2022

LONDON. Early morning, June 2019: on the foreshore of the river Thames, a bag of bones is discovered. Human bones.

DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene and quickly sends the bag for forensic examination. The bones are those of a young woman, killed by a blow to the head many years ago.

Also inside the bag is a trail of clues, in particular the seeds of a rare tree which lead DCI Owusu back to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen, and a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up.

The clues point forward too to a brother and sister in Chicago searching for the only person who can make sense of their pasts.

Four deaths. An unsolved mystery. A family whose secrets can’t stay buried for ever …

Sequel to her popluar novel The Family Upstairs, Jewell herself admits that she does not like writing sequels, but she recevied so amany requests asking what happened after the Family Upstairs ended that she decided to tie up the loose ends and questions that were left.

She does introduce some new characters to tie up a plot point that occured outside of the main family story but is still important to understand that characters motivations and dynamic.

Well written with the characters akready well defined if you have already read the previous book, however there is enough inoformation regarding the previous events that you do not need to read the first book, however I cannot imagine why anyone would not want to read it as the first is a brilliant book.

The Family Remains is a great sequel to ‘Upstairs’ bringing a thrilling yet heartbreaking at times conclusion the story of the Lamb family.

The only issue I found is that for the first 15 or so chapters I was confused as to how certain family members were related, getting Lucy and Libby confused at times and, a family tree at the begining of this book would have not only helped but would have been in keeping with the style of the story.

Another great read from Lisa Jewell, whose characters, plots and writing style never disappoint.

4 stars

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A Wartime Secret by Helen Yendell


England, 1940. Can Maggie keep her family – and her secret – safe? An emotional and heartbreaking wartime novel for fans of Diney Costeloe, Dilly Court and Mandy Robotham.

When Maggie’s new job takes her from bombed-out London to grand Snowden Hall in the Cotswolds she’s apprehensive but determined to do her bit for the war effort. She’s also keeping a secret, one she knows would turn opinion against her. Her mother is German: Maggie is related to the enemy.

Then her evacuee sister sends her a worrying letter, missing the code they agreed Violet would use to confirm everything was well, and Maggie’s heart sinks. Violet is miles away; how can she get to her in the middle of a war? Worse, her mother, arrested for her nationality, is now missing, and Maggie has no idea where she is.

As a secret project at Snowden Hall risks revealing Maggie’s German side, she becomes even more determined to protect her family. Can she find a way to get to her sister? And will she ever find out where her mother has been taken?

My thoughts

There are a lot of romance books set in World War 2, and this is another one, however in this one we meet Maggie, a bank employee whose mother is German, her mother has been arrested and she does not know where she is being held, her sister has been evacuted to a farm, and the bank she works for is being relocated to the countryside.

It is a beautiful story which easily conveys the fear Maggie has of anyone finding out her mother is German and that she can speak the language, we follow her from a shy girl to a confident young woment who eventually helps the war effort by using her language skills as a translator, warm and heartening, lots of social commemtary of the time, a feel good book that is easy to read and leaves a warm fuzzy feeling at the end

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When Marilyn Met the Queen by Michelle Morgan

You can always tell the quailty of a non-fiction book if the auther has included a section of source notes, in this deep dive into Monroe’s time in England filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, Morgan includes more than 40 pages of source notes, broken down by chapter.

The genesis of this book was born in the 1990s when Morgan was running The Marilyn Lives Society fan club, however the project was shelved because, when she started her writing career she was told there would be no interest in it, despite members of the club excitedly demanding it.

Now 30 years on and with many more years of research that book is finally here. Published by Robinson, the book takes the reader through the complete journey of the filming of Showgirl, from the early planning stages until the end of filming and beyond.

The depth of information in this book is astonishing with even the most ardent and die hard Monrow student bound to find some new information, from behind the scenes incidents to little tidbits about who desgined the dress for the Royal Command Performance. Quotes from people such as Norman Wisdom, Donal SInden, Olivier, Dame Sybil Thorndyke and more give an eyewitnes account of Monroe at the studio.

Over the years Morgan has spoken to mant people (sadly some of them now gone) about meeting Marilyn either at Pinewood or Englefield Green and London, and these reminicences bring to light the personal Marilyn, the human being behind the persona, as well as showcasing her star power during personal appearances and even in events arranged up and down the UK in honor of her visit. The lengths that some of her fans go to is amusising.

The filming of Showgirl was not a happy time for Monroe or Olivier, and it could be said that by the time filming ended they detested eachother, however Morgan does not side with either Monroe or Olivier and that is so refreshing, nor does she judge Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller for an incident that occured, (Miller bashing seems to be a popular hobby of some Marilyn fans) during the early dys of their marriage instead laying out the facts as they are available.

This is not a dark book, there are many light hearted moments including Marilyn receving lots of bicycles after saying she wasnted to cycle in the English countryside among others.

For those who have doubts about Colin Clark’s version of events as presented in his 2 volumes, it will come as no surprise that this book does not have much in the way of information from him and in fact some of the things he claims are eerily similar to things that happened with someone else in her entourage.

No conjectures, no bias, instead an honest and beautilfully written account of a time in Marilyn’s life which should have been happy and full of cheer, but instead ended up being a fairly miserable time for all concerened. However, the film that resulted from this time has some of the most beautifully photographed images of Monroe ever to be captures on film.

Don’t miss this one 5/5

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My First Reading Journal

I have kept diaries for years, even if I don’t fill them out daily, every year I buy a new A4 Page a day desk diary and this year I am so far doing well at recording events that happen and my thoughts. However this is the first year I have decided to keep a reading journal. Although I track my reading on Goodreads, I thought it woud be nice to have a hard copy record of all the books I read in a year.

So I watched some Tiktok and Youtube videos andd took inspiration from them and used the layouts and prompts that suited me. Here are some photos

The book I chose

And that so far is what it looks like, though rather than draw the stars I bought 1000 sticky gold ones to use, because I can also give them to Jennifer. So far I am enjoying keeping the journal and try and update as much as I can as soon as I finish a book.

I may do some double page spreads of favourite books if I feel like it, easpeically as Michelle Morgan’s new book ‘When Marilyn Met the Queen’ is due out very soon. Needless to say I am very exited about that book, but more on that when the time comes.

Do you keep a reading journal? Or do you just track on one of the apps, like Goodreads? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

This is a modern version of It’s a wonderful life, the character of Nora is beautifully written and you can’t help but empathise with her troubles, while also wanting her to realise that her life is worth something, Haig gives little clues along the way of the people whose lives she changes in small ways, while making it hard for her to see the same.

The book is so easy to read as Nora travels along each life potential, each having its ups and its downs, pros and cons, the library is beautifully described and the librarian someone we can all relate to, an authority figure that is a human being as are we all, at that is what this story is about, it’s about being human with all its ups and downs.

The midnight library will make you think about all the little interactions that you have had with people good and bad, and how your actions may have affected them and that the life you have may be the best one for you at this time

5/5 for this one

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It’s 2022….

….. and I will admit I havenyt reviewed a book in a long time. I can’t blame having a small child as I still managed to read over 200 in 2021 – so this year I am going to mak an effort to post reviews regularly on here.

This year I am determined to reduce my physical TBR as last year I mostly read ebooks and my physical TBR still has over 200 on it and I am adding more – I jist can’t help myself.

So lease keep checking back for new posts and reviews.

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I’ve been away

Just a quick post to say that I hope to be postine new reviews shortly, of both old and new books.

It’s been hard to read the last 2 years due to my daughter being so young, and needing lots of attention, however, I have found that now she is getting older it is getting much easier to read and in fact already this year I have read over 30 books!

So watch this space as new reviews, thoughts and ideas will be heading your way soon

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman



In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

My Thoughts

I am always wary of books written by celebrities, will it be any good? Did they write it themselves?

Well a few pages into the book and I completely forgot that it was written by TV presenter Richard Osman.

For the very beginning the writing was so good that I did not here Richard Osman’s voice at all, the characters we so well defined that each had their own voice that I could clearly hear, each one had their own identities and characteristics that I was soon drawn in to the plot.

From the start to the end Osman keeps you guessing about the motives and possible killer or killers, the suspense builds and I found myself trying to guess, incorrectly who the killer was.

I loved the characters in the Murder Club, feisty, intelligent with interesting back stories, some intriguing, some more tragic, this book will grip you to the end and bring a tear to your eye at the resolution.

With book two in the works and a possible film adaptation on it’s way Osman’s series is definitely one to check out and keep an eye on.


5/5 from me 


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Where the Dead Walk by John Bowen


For some, ghosts are no more than the wounds loved ones leave in their wake, haunting the living only with their absence. Others take a more literal view..

.Kate Bennett, presenter of paranormal investigation cable TV show, ‘Where the Dead Walk’, isn’t sure what she believes, other than she seems cursed to lose all those closest to her.

After investigating a neglected cliff-top house, empty for a decade because it’s ‘haunted’, Kate is convinced a spirit within holds the answers to a childhood she can’t remember and an unimaginable crime.

What she can’t know is that the house’s owner, Sebastian Dahl, is searching for something too, and he intends to get it, whatever the cost.

download (1)

My thoughts

Ghost hunting television shows have become fairly popular  in recent years from UK’s Most Haunted to the dozens of US programmes such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, and this story uses that premise as a background.

The  main character, Kate presents one such show, she is nicely written and from the start you can tell that there is something between her and her producer. The characters are believable and well written. Sebastian Dahl, who asks for Kate and her team to investigate his house is both creepy and too good to be true, but Kate his determined to help.

The description of the house is brilliant and I could really imagine its lay out and the fire that took place, that affected the lives of both Sebastian and Kate as it comes to light that they knew each other as children.

About 70% to 75% of the way through the book I figured out what Sebastian was up to and his motives for asking Kate to help with his problem and the reason he was isolating her from her friends, this is because I have seen this plot point several times on Film and TV and I was really hoping that Bowen would take the story to a different ending than had previously been used, and I was glad to find out that he did. I really enjoyed this book and if you like a good bit of suspense mixed in with the supernatural then this is for you.



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Audio Books – Do they count as reading?

This is something that I have seen discussed a few times on blogs and booktube videos. Well if we are going to be completely technical about it then No it is not reading, because you are not actually reading the book, someone is reading it to you. But it is being read, just not by you.

I personally like listening to audio books, and have been listening to them quite a bit recently, a good thing about an audio book is that the story may sink in more than when you read it, for example, I borrowed the book The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown from the library a couple of years ago and I read the book, but if a year later you had asked me what happened in it I would not be able to tell you. I am currently listening to the book on my mobile phone via the Amazon Audible app, and now I can remember the story and details of the plot that I couldn’t when I read it, in fact it has been positively haunting me.

Why have I started listening to audio books? Well I started a while ago when my other half was watching sport, but now I find I am listening through the night, as I have a young baby and am finding it very hard to find the time to sit and read a physical book, I still manage a little bit per day but nowhere near the amount of reading I managed before she was born, so I am listening to the book at night when I am feeding her, this is now only about once a night at around 5 or 6 am, but it is still a good 40 minutes or so and listen while she is falling asleep on me after her feed.

I’m still way behind on  my Goodreads challenge but listening to audio book is helping me catch up slowly.

Audio books also help you read in places you can’t normally read, like when you are driving your car, I know a lot of people who listen to audio books in their cars when travelling to and from work, so while technically you are not reading an audio book it still counts, that’d my view and I’m sticking to it!

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