May Book Reviews

Well, May was a funny old month.  I didn’t get a great amount of reading done as I was focused on getting my last couple of university assignments finished but I did enjoy what I got round to.  I finished a couple of audio books this month and am really enjoying my Audible subscription.  I listen to them on long car journeys and when I am doing the ironing and cleaning for example.  Here is a round up of what I read (and listened to) this month.

The Fear by C. L. Taylor


This month I took part in the blog tour for The Fear by C. L. Taylor.  I really enjoyed this and if you are a thriller fan, I am sure you will too.  You can see the full review here

The Power by Naomi Alderman




The Blurb

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.

My Review

If you are a bookworm like me and enjoy discussing books with like minded people I suggest checking out Dawn O’Porter’s book club on Instagram – The Cold Water Book Club.  Last month the book she chose was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I had already read (my review can be found here) and this month she chose this for the fiction book.  I really enjoyed the questions i the book club after listening to this one, and thought the issues it raised were thought provoking and interesting.

I really loved the sound of this book.  The premise was different from anything I had read before and that excited me.  I downloaded it with the free credit I get from my Audible subscription for which I pay £7.99 a month.

I can’t say I loved this book but I did have to keep coming back to it and I wanted to hear how it all played out.  It is a great one for a book club and I would recommend it to anyone who is in one as it evokes a lot of conversations with its themes of power, feminism and religion among others.  I really liked the characters of Roxy and Tunde.  The writing was brilliantly evocative at times and the scene where Roxy had something dreadful happen (trying not to spoil it for anyone), was very emotional and made me want to cry for her.  I could feel her pain as I listened.  Some scenes are a little explicit and I would only recommend this to adult readers.

One of the major downsides of this book for me was the narration.  I really did not get along with it on this one and it was a definite hindrance to the book for me.  A couple of the different accents were done well, but the others just grated on me.  However, I am not sure I would have finished this book if I had the actual book rather than the audio version as I think I would have been bored and less inclined to pick it up.

If you enjoy something a little different and can get by with the narration of the audio version of this, I would recommend it.  I liked the concept, the delivery wasn’t always as engaging as I would have liked but it did keep me listening till the end.

Buy The Power on Amazon

Buy The Power on Waterstones

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinsborough


13 mins

The Blurb

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

My Review

This book was a little shorter thn most I have on Audible so I also finished this one this month.  And I really enjoyed it!

I do enjoy a thriller and this one did not disappoint, even though I worked out the big twist.  However, following the journey and how everything payed out was still gripping.

The book focuses on a group of teenage girls following the night one of them is rescued from the river and bought back to life after being ‘dead’ for 13 minutes.  She has lost her memory of what happened, so has to rely on her friends to fill in the gaps for her and can understand what happened to her.  The book is well written and the author has done a good job with the characters of the teenage girls.

The narrator of this one was much better and was able to keep set accents and voices to different characters.  Ste thought she spoke quite fast but I felt the pace was fine and much more conversational, as it would be in real life.

Buy 13 Minutes on Amazon 

Buy 13 Minutes on Waterstones

Dear Martha, WTF by Tricia LaVoice


The Blurb

The Giving Tree meets Eat, Pray, Love in a brazenly honest, refreshingly irreverent, and even hilarious look at going “through” versus going “down.”

Tricia LaVoice’s life turned upside-down when her parents were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Her close relationships with her mother and father made everyday life afterwards a challenge.

Happily married and with a beautiful baby girl, Tricia had no time to fall apart. Over the years as her family grew, Tricia met two strong, dynamic women, both survivors of their own life challenges, whose wonderful friendships and unconditional maternal love and strength guide her to trust in life.

But tragedy strikes Tricia’s family again, shaking her faith in life once more. It was during this time of suffering and loneliness that she found an unexpected respite in nature, in the form of a beautiful pine tree Tricia named Martha. This rare bond inspires Tricia who literally talks to Martha daily as she heals the hurt in her heart. Tricia learns to listen to her inner voice, and heals herself by finding her source of courage and strength is within her.

My Review

They say to save the best till last and that is certainly the case this month.  What a fantastic book chronicling a woman’s journey through life and grief.

Sometimes, it is the case that you happen to pick up a book at exactly the right point in time you need to read what it has to say.  That was the case for me with this one.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I lost my Grandma at the end of April.  The author of this book lost both her parents in an accident just after having her first child.  This book follows her through the rest of her life and how she deals (and often does not deal) with not having her parent’s in her life.  Through moving (often and cross country), having children, family ups and downs we see what her reaction is and how she manages. She shows the way her grief impacts on those around her, reflects on her faith and learns different coping mechanisms.

I just can’t do this book justice ad really do recommend a read.  It will definitely be on my favourite books of 2018 list.  If I told you that, in fact, Martha is a tree you would probably say – Natalie, WTF – but honestly, especially when dealing with your own grief after losing someone, whatever stage you are at, this book will say things that you can understand completely.

Buy Dear Martha, WTF on Amazon

Thankyou to NetGalley and Post Hill Press for my ARC of this book in return for a review containing my own, honest opinions

I hope you enjoyed my reviews this month.  What have you been reading this month and would you recommend it?  I love to hear a good recommendation!  Let me know in the comments below and I will see you for another round up in a months time.


See more

April Book Reviews

March Book Reviews

February Book Reviews



January Book Reviews

I have decided rather than splitting them into separate posts (which can clog up the blog as I read quite a lot) I would do a monthly post reviewing the books I have read.  My Reading Challenge/Book Club is still accepting new readers so check out my post here on how to sign up!

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

Some Kind Of Wonderful.png

The Blurb

When the love of your life says you’re not The One, who are you? Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future. Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ideal ‘better half’. But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him? Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun

What I Thought

If you follow me on social media you will have seen my thoughts on this book already – I loved it!  Chick-Lit is not my go to genre, but I do enjoy the occasional one as a light, fluffy, easy read.  This however, was not run of the mill, everything land’s in the main characters lap and she lives happily ever after.  This book showed a real journey for the main character.  After leaving a long term partner, who you believed you would spend your life with, you have a lot of work to do.  You have to re-find yourself, possibly move house, find things to fill your time again, get used to being alone.  This book shows that journey for Lizzy and it was like a breath of fresh air for this style of book.  As a woman who has gone through this I was relieved to see something that represented the true struggles after a break up and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lizzy’s journey.  I will definitely be checking out some of Giovanna Fletcher’s other books after reading this one.


Part Star Part Dust by L. M. Valiram

Part Star Part Dust

The Blurb

A millionaire, a widow and a monk. A plane crash. Three destinies linked for eternity in a tale narrated by Time.

Meet Radha.

She was left in a dumpster on the side streets of Mumbai to die as she was born; premature and undernourished.

Meet Mira.

At sixteen she is to marry a man she has never met before. On her wedding day, she carries a knife.

And Gaurav.

People say love is more important than money. But what happens when having one means you can’t have the other?

Scattered across India, these three are intertwined in unlikely ways: the flower shop owned by Mira’s husband employs Radha’s boyfriend, Mira and Gaurav become partners in business and most importantly, an ill-fated trip to Delhi links them all in death and life. Set in the sensuous worlds of Bombay and Delhi, Valiram’s dazzling novel explores the deep meanings of love, family, and time.

What I Thought

As soon as I read the blurb I wanted to devour this book, and it did not disappoint.  Learning about the three central character’s lives, following them over time and seeing how their lives intertwined through time was fascinating.  I loced this quote towrds the end of the book and think it sums up the book really well and gets you thinking –

‘Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in destiny?  Or are you ohne of those that believe in choice alone?

Do you make your choices or do your choices make you?’

It makes you think deeper about the book and you wonder if fate was in control all along or whether the choices you see these characters make control what happens at the end of the story.  A stunning read and highly recommmended.

Buy The Book

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green


Read the full review for this here

I currently have two more on the go and hope to have them finished by the end of the month but as I am posting this a little early, I will include them in February’s round up and review!  Let me know what books you have been loving in the comments below as I always like to check out a good recommendation.  Happy reading everyone!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

My posts may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on them will not affect your purchase in any way but I may get a few pennies from them.  Thankyou

Reading Challenge 2018

So you all know I am a keen reader and I like to share the books I have enjoyed with you all.  This year I have decided to set myself some reading goals.  What started with a number, became a lot more interesting when I decided to pick some ‘rules’ for books I choose to read this year.


So to start, my number is 50.  That’s roughly a book a week which I think is achievable without going too far for me.  My reading has seriously lapsed the last few years.  It is something I love and have ‘rediscovered’ in the last few months so I want to continue that in 2018.

Next up I decided on twelve conditions for a book I read, one for every month of the year.  These are

  • A self-help book
  • A classic
  • An autobigraphy
  • A non-fiction book
  • A book written for children
  • A Christmas themed book
  • A book by a new author
  • A book by an author I like
  • A book by someone called Natalie
  • A book based in WW1 or WW2
  • A trilogy
  • A book recommended to me

I will be picking which one I do every month in no particular order but have decided to start with a self-help book for January.  Obviously I will need some help with the recommendations so please let me know your in the comments below!


If you would like to join me with this I would love to have you on board!  Please let me know your email by filling in the contact form below and I will be sending out emails updating you with good books I have come across and reviews, as well as the coming month’s ‘challenge’.  No spam though I promise!  Just a ‘The Spoonie Mummy Book Club’ I suppose!

I look forward to my reading journey this year and am excited as have some amazing books to read.  You all know my local Waterstones in Derby is one of my favourite places and where I spend far too many pennies!  I hope you will join me too, and look forward to hearing from you if you want to join the book club and also your recommendations.  Happy reading all!

Please note:  My posts may contain affiliate links.  Clicking these does not affect you or your purchases in any way but I may make a few pennies from it.  Thankyou

Burnished Chaos

BlogMas Day Seven – Book Review – The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

So I thought I would share some of the festive books I have read and have been published lately which are wonderful for getting in the Christmas spirit.

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers is a collection of eighteen festive short stories by a range of authors.  I haven’t read a short story book in a while but do really enjoy them from time to time.  The cover looked fun, if a little like a children’s book but it certainly isn’t one!  They were certainly some funny stories, some dark humour, some were lovely and some sad.  It was a real mixed bag and there were only a couple I didn’t finish that didn’t seem to suck me in like the others did.



Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on a routine espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures in this delectable volume will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe, from a Korean War POW camp to a Copenhagen refugee squat, from a palatial hotel in 1920s Bombay to a crumbling mansion in Havana.

Includes Stories By (In Order of Appearance):
Helene Tursten, Mick Herron, Martin Limón, Timothy Hallinan, Teresa Dovalpage, Mette Ivie Harrison, Colin Cotterill, Ed Lin, Stuart Neville, Tod Goldberg, Henry Chang, James R. Benn, Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis, Sujata Massey, Gary Corby, Cara Black, Stephanie Barron and a Foreword and story by Peter Lovesey

Favourite Stories

Chalee’s Nativity

This story is set in Bangkok and is about two street children, Chalee and Apple.  It is a sweet story, if a little sad as it is never nice to think of children like this, especially at Christmas.  The bond between the two is ever present though and it just shows what joy can be bought through the simplest of things.

Cabaret Aux Assassins

This was probably my favourite of all the stories and I wish there was more!  The only problem with some short stories is that you wish they weren’t short at all, but full novels.  This book has mystery, spies, Paris and even Sherlock Holmes.  It was a fab read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Supper With Miss Shivers

A heartwarming ghost story emerges after a couple are invited to dinner by a stranger.  Although a strange situation, this is a lovely little Christmas story.

When The Time Comes

This is a good story, which shows that even the bad have some good in them.  I enjoyed this one and had my fingers crossed through it all for the central character, hoping she would get her Christmas wish of where she wanted to be.  And a baby is born which is always lovely!

I liked the fact that each story had an introduction to the author which also mentioned their other work.  It is a good place to start looking when you read a story by an author you enjoy and want to find more.

If you are a short story fan, or haven’t read one before but enjoy dark humour, mystery and Christmas then I suggest you give this one a go.  I really enjoyed it and I am sure you will too

Where To Buy




Summer Reading List

I was always known as the bookworm when I was young and reading is still a great passion of mine.  Recently I have been into Waterstones faaaar too much but I can’t resist a peek at the ‘buy one get one half price displays’ to see what I fancy reading.  I have now built up quite a stash of books so feel very prepared for the coming Summer!  I thought I would share my list and hopefully hear some of your opinions on the books I am reading or even inspire your Summer reads this year.


This author features twice in my Summer Reading List and comes very highly recommended.  The blurb on the back cover of the book simply reads

“This is a story which begins with a barbecue… By the end of it a lifelong friendship will be in tatters, a marriage on the rocks and an innocent bystander dead.  In just one evening six lives will change forever”

The chapters randomly flip between the present day and the day of the barbecue.  There are lots of people praising her writing including Stephen Fry and Jojo Moyes. With those sorts of fans I thought it was worth a read myself!



I saw this book in the buy one get one half price sale in Waterstones but decided on two others at the time.  I ended up picking this up from the book swap stand in the Halifax town centre Tesco Express.  It’s a great place to look for books (there is also one in Huddersfield bus station) and it’s a shame I don’t know of any in Derby.  All they ask you to do is leave a donation in their charity box which is what I did.

The blurb reads

“How far would you go to save your best friend? For thirty years, best friends Steph and Pip have been through thick and thin.  Selfless and trusting, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for one another.  Until a few simple words change everything.  I need you to say that I was with you. Steph, eternally solid and dependable, is begging her friend to lie to the police as she’s desperately trying to conceal not one but two scandalous secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty hot-head, is overwhelmed, she’s normally the one asking for help in a crisis.  Steph’s perfect life will be torn apart unless Pip agrees to this lie.  But lying will jeopardise everything Pip’s recently achieved after years of struggle.  It’s a big ask.  So what would you do?”

I am obviously intrigued into what she is asking her friend to do and wonder how it will affect their relationship.  It looks lie the book is centered over five days and there are several short chapters in each day.  At the beginning of the book there is a short section based thirty years previously, probably introducing the girls at the beginning of their friendship.  Then at the end there is a round up a few months after when the majority of the book is set.  This was a Sunday Times bestseller and also has some really good feedback from a range of newspapers and magazines.



I have read a few of Cathy Glass’s books and have always enjoyed them.  ‘Please Don’t Take My Baby’ was one of my favourites.  Cathy Glass was a foster carer for many years and her stories are all based on children she looked after.  She has sold over a million books and they are often those you don’t want to stop reading and put down so often keep me up into the early hours.

The blurb says

“Alex was a lovely little boy who had been in and out of care almost since birth and was looking forward to having a forever family of his own.  I was asked to foster him for a short while until he moved to his permanent, adoptive home, so I felt sure this story would have a happy ending.  But what happened next was truly shocking and called into question the whole adoption process.”

I will warn you that these books are all true stories and really tug on the heart strings.  Cathy writes freely and in an easy to follow way, which is one of the reasons you keep reading, as well as wanting to find out the fate of the children she cares for.



I ma not only excited to read a book by Daphne Du Maurier (got to love that name) but this has also just been released as a film and I always like to read a book before watching the film!  Most of the time I end up feeling let down at the film but there are the odd few exceptions.

The back of the book says

“Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his cousin, Ambrose.  Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in making Philip his heir, knowing that he will treasure his beautiful Cornish estate.  But Philip’s world is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence.  There he falls in love and marries – and then dies in suspicious circumstances.  Before long, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – arrives in England.  Despite himself, he is drawn to the beautiful, mysterious woman.  But could she be Ambrose’s killer?”

I am looking forward to reading this one and then seeing how the film compares.



The blurb reads

“The Republic of Gilead offers Offread only one function: to breed.  If she deviates she will, like dissenters, be hung at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness.  But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offread’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.  Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful vision of the future gives full rein to ,Margaret Atwood’s irony, wit and astute perception.”

This has recently been televised in a TV series and has had some rave reviews.  As I said with the previous book, I like to read before I watch so I was thrilled to see this in the bouy one get opne half price offer.  It looks different and an interesting read and I will let you know what I think.



I bought this book a while ago and had not realised it had been bought out as a TV series at the time.  I didn’t watch the show but if I enjoy the book I may catch up with it after I have finished reading.  There’s not a huge amount I can say about it but when I read the back cover I felt interested so thought I would give it a whirl.

The blurb reads

“London, 1886 and Adolf Verloc runs a sex shop in the heart of Soho.  Bit unknown to his loyal wife, Winnie, Verloc is also paid by the Russian embassy to spy on an anarchist cell.  Verloc is given a mission to blow up Greenwich Observatory or be exposed as an agent.  Caught between the spy masters,. the police and his vicious anarchist comrades, Verloc sets his sights on Winnie’s beloved younger brother Stevie as his accomplice…”



I was immediately drawn to this book when I read the blurb.  Since purchasing it I have seen lots of great reviews on it too which has increased my excitement to read it.  There is lots of praise for the book from newspapers here and in America, aswell as from Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

The back cover reads

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, an existence made even more hellish by her status as an outcast by her fellow Africans.  And she is approaching womanhood, where greater pain and danger awaits.  So when Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the underground railroad, Cora takes the momentus decision to accompany him on his escape to the North.  In this razor sharp novel, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form, a dilapidated box-car pulled by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can.  Thus begins Cora’s perilous journey, as she is pursued by a ruthless slave catcher called Ridgeway, obsessed with both Cora and her mother, who eluded him years before.  The Underground Railroad is the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history and the unfulfilled promises of the present day.”

This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017 and I am really looking forward to reading it and seeing if the story matches up to all the great reviews I have read.



This was given to me by a friend last year and I still haven’t got round to reading it so it’s definitely on my Summer list!  She thought it was great and my Mum watched the film and said that was brilliant too.  I will obviously only be watching that once I am done reading the book.

The blurb simply states

“Jack is five.  He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma.”

It was a number one bestseller and shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize.  I think this book intrigues me and I want to know why on Earth this little boy has never been out of the one room in all his life and what possibly could force his mother to do such a thing.  It has often been described as compelling and profoundly affecting so I am expecting to shed some tears too.



This is a book I am currently reading and really enjoying.  I do enjoy true crimes book and feel quite strongly about the gun laws in America.  This book is based on a random day in 2013 when 10 children and teens were murdered by guns (or indeed, the people who carried them).  This is roughly the average of children and young people who get shot killed every day in America but are barely publicised as it is so ‘normal’ over there, which seems so very wrong.

The back cover reads,

“Saturday 23rd November 2013.  It was just another day in America.  And as befits an unremarkable day, ten children and teens were killed by gunfire.  Far from being considered newsworthy, these everyday fatalities are seen as a banal fact.  The youngest was nine: the oldest nineteen.  None made the news.  There was no outrage at their passing.  It was simply a day like any other day.  Gary Younge picked it at random, searched for the families of these children and here, tells their stories and explores the way they lived and lost their short lives.”

The stories are often heartbreaking but I admire Gary for his views and for giving these victims a facer and a name.  There is a real debate in America about gun laws and I think this seems so shocking to me as I am not from there and this does not happen on this scale in England.  I am really enjoying it so far and will do a full review once I am finished.



I have started the first book in this series of three and am really enjoying it so far.  I love knowing that the photos printed in the book are real (and slightly odd) and that it was finding these that prompted Biggs to start writing these stories.

The blurb says,

“A mysterious island.  An abandoned orphanage.  A strange collection of peculiar photographs.  It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.  As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen year old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.  As Jacob explores its decaying bedrooms and hallways, it appears the Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just a little peculiar.  They may have been dangerous.  They may have been quarantined on a desert island for good reason.  And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.”

I am sure many of you have seen the film but I am also waiting for that one till I have read the book.  I also believe the success of the first film means they are making the two further books into films aswell, and I also managed to pick those up from Waterstones in Huddersfield so I can read all three. I would love to hear your opinions on the books/film if you have seen or read them.


I have also delved into the world of audio books. My Mum has been on at me to try them for a while so decided to give it a go and realised it was great! So far I’ve listened while driving back from Ste’s alone, cleaning and ironing! I have two books to start with on there. One is by LIANE MORIARTY (again) and it’s called BIG LITTLE LIES. This was recently made into a TV show with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman among others so I’m expecting great things from it, and even better from the book (as they usually are!). The second book I’ve downloaded is HOW TO STOP TIME by MATT HAIG. This looks a little different and interesting and I haven’t heard of the author so will let you know how I get on with it.

Finally, is the Kindle book I’m reading at the moment. I have started it and it’s called STORMBIRD and is the first in a series from CONN IGGULDEN called WAR OF THE ROSES. It’s a historical fiction book which I’m really into but I’m sure isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! I have a pretty eclectic taste in books which I’m sure you have realised. Anyway, Ste recommended this book and I’m really enjoying it so far and will let you know how I found it when I’ve finished.


Ok so I’m going to leave the list here as it’s getting longer and longer! I’ve bought four more new books last week so those will also be read and reviewed at some point too.

Let me know what is on your Summer reading list in the comments below, and if any of these appeal to you too.