Sirens by Joseph Knox #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Sirens by Joseph Knox. This is the first book in the Aiden Waits series and my first time with this author. You can get a copy of Sirens from all good bookshops and also Amazon UK.

Synopsis:

I stopped going to work. I went missing. We still live in a world where you can disappear if you want to. Or even if you don’t.

Detective Aidan Waits is in trouble 

After a career-ending mistake, he’s forced into a nightmare undercover operation that his superiors don’t expect him to survive.

Isabelle Rossiter has run away again

When the teenage daughter of a prominent MP joins Zain Carver, the enigmatic criminal who Waits is investigating, everything changes.

A single mother, missing for a decade

Carver is a mesmerising figure who lures young women into his orbit – young women who have a bad habit of disappearing. Soon Waits is cut loose by the police, stalked by an unseen killer and dangerously attracted to the wrong woman.

How can he save the girl, when he can’t even save himself?

My Thoughts:

The disgraced detective Aiden Waits is the right man for the job of tracking down a missing girl, especially when that girl is the daughter of an MP, and he wants the news of her disappearance kept quiet.

This is a story that I found a little slow to get going but in this slowness the author, managed to convey the scene, the characters and the basics ready for the story to evolve. I got to learn the story behind Waits and the way and why he was offered the job that I think many would have turned down. His record for being a dirty cop allowed him the space to work into the world of drugs, gangs and the whole heap of stuff that you expect to find along with this lifestyle.

I got a good idea of the people and the gangs that operate within the drugs world and also the methods of dealing with trouble or potential trouble makers. I felt that once all the basics were covered, the story then kicked into gear, this actually worked quite for me.  There are a couple of characters that I liked, but then I wouldn’t really want to like some of them, due to the nature of their characters, as they are pretty unpleasant. Even though there are quite a few characters and it took me a little while to get used to them, they are memorable.

I did enjoy this book and even though the slower beginning to this story, it gave a good foundation for the story that followed. It gave a lot of detail that I think will stand me in good stead for the next book The Smiling Man, and I am looking forward to reading that as well.

This book is definitely gritty and is detailed in some of its descriptions with a plot that explores things I would associate with a gang/drug theme. It deals with social and law disorder, drug abuse, gangs and crime in an atmospheric and noirish way. This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers who enjoy Northern Noir, Crime, Thriller with an undercover/ disgraced detective.

About the Author:

81f6ZqDnaKL._SY200_Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke-On-Trent and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively.

Sirens is his debut novel. His second, The Smiling Man, is available now.

 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be brilliant 🙂 xx

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck #BookReview

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Today I have my thoughts on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It was a chance for me to take a dip into one of the classics, I had read quite a few of the classics a couple of years and never did quite get round to this one. I have read Grapes of Wrath and also Cannery Row and enjoyed them and gave me a chance to get a feel for the authors grim and gritty style. You can get a copy of Of Mice and Men from most good bookshops and online at Amazon UK, my copy is the Penguin Red Classics edition.

Synopsis:

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy – becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and giving a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men remains Steinbeck’s most popular work, achieving success as a novel, Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

My Thoughts:

Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie. They work various jobs and travel around looking for new work as one job runs out or they run out. The story begins as they head towards their next job. George has a dream to one day own his own plot of land and Lennie is happily caught up in this vision of the future. Lennie is a gentle giant of a man and is referred to as being not very bright but will work hard and do as he is told.

George looks out for Lennie and knows that many would not want a man like Lennie working for them, prejudice at this point in history is ripe so anyone being slightly different is not acceptable to many. Even though George is often frustrated by the simple nature of Lennie, he is a friend and will support him. They are each other has.

This is a simple tale of friendship between two men travelling for work. Rather than being loners as many travelling labourers are, they have a bond in their friendship, they are able to talk about their dreams for the future and it gives them hope. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble, but this is not always possible and  misunderstandings do happen.

This is a quick read at only 121 pages and is easy to read in one sitting. It’s style is one I like, a slow meandering yet descriptive and emotional one. It explores various inequalities and prejudices that were relevant at the time. A wonderful read that slowly rolls along until it picks up speed as a sense of tension begins to build.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy American Social History, Literary Fiction and  Classic Fiction.

About the Author:

41Hta3i6uDL._UX250_ John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Photo by Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland @under_blue_sky #BonnierZaffre #NetGalley #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. I received an eARC from Bonnier Zaffre via NetGalley and I have now finally read this beautiful book about how life has more limitations for some people. You can purchase your own copy from Amazon UK, it is available in various formats.

Synopsis:

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

My Thoughts:

This is the story of Ailsa Rae who was born with a faulty heart. She is 28 and only a transplant will keep her seeing her 29th birthday.

Now then, even though the synopsis left me thinking that this would be a sad read, the story that comes out is one that gave me a feeling of the exact opposite. Even though there are moments that are sad, this book is uplifting and heartwarming giving an insight into the life of a person being on the waiting list an also of a transplant patient.

Ailsa has a blue tinge to her, this is due to her heart not working properly, she uses this to refer to herself as Blueheart as she creates and runs a blog. It is a way to keep people up to date with how things are going, but importantly is a guide for people who are in a similar position to herself and for those who may need advice in the future.

The story is mainly of Ailsa and her journey after the transplant and how she comes to terms with starting to live her life. It involves a change in everything and I hadn’t even considered how a person would have to adapt their whole life to basically begin again. I had not really thought that much about how such a restriction on a person’s life would essentially be that person’s life, and that all they had known would have to be changed. This is where the book really worked for me as it opened my eyes to an area that I wasn’t really aware of. I don’t personally know of anyone that has needed to have a heart transplant, so even though I sympathise (this doesn’t feel like the right word to use, but I hope you get what I mean) I really had no idea of the enormity of the changes required. Ailsa has been protected all her life by her mother, wrapped up in cotton wool. It means that Ailsa is not as mature and worldly-wise as you would expect of someone her age. It means that when she starts to live a healthy life she has to grow up, she has to do things for herself and not be so reliant on her mum. So essentially not learning how to live but also to live as an adult.

This is such an emotional story and such a lovely read that I was drawn completely in. I loved the way that the author added blog posts and emails intermittently through the story. The use of the blog was a great way of seeing how Ailsa looked at the world as she interacted with her followers as she asked for advice.

There are so many more things I could mention about this book but I have decided to stop here. There are interactions and friendships, hard choices and decisions to be made that make this quite an emotional book to read also peppered with humour and a lighthearted ness at times. It gave me a chance to see a different perspective to life and how it can be so very different to my own.

If you are after a well written a beautiful heartwarming, eye opener and heartbreaking book then do please read this. I was hooked from the very first pages and did not want this story to end. This is a book that will stay with me and one I would most definitely recommend to readers.

About the Author:

81Trop7ggSL._SY200_ Stephanie Butland is the author of beloved bookshop tale ‘Lost For Words’ and her new novel ‘The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae’, released in ebook and paperback 19th April 2018 (available for pre-order now).

Stephanie lives in Northumberland, close to the place where she grew up. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and loves being close to the sea. She’s thriving after cancer.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter – Facebook – Website

#LostForWords #TheCuriousHeart #AilsaRae

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The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton @AuthorSJBolton #BookReview

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I am delighted to be bringing you my thoughts on the dark and deviously brilliant The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. I bought this a little while ago and it has been glaring at me from my bookshelf to be read, why oh why oh why did I wait so long……. You can buy this book in various formats from quite a range of places including real book shops, on line book shops and if your in the UK from the supermarket…….. My shopping List= Milk, Bread, Wine, Coffee, The Craftsman 🙂 and also here is a link for Amazon UK to help you.

Synopsis:

Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

My Thoughts:

Read the synopsis it gives you a taster of what to expect, but it does not give you any indication as to how this book will really get under your skin. Larry Glassbrook is buried in 1999, he was a convicted for the series of child murders. 1969 is the beginning of events.

Oh my god, where on earth to start with this book? I am going to mention that I am not someone who suffers from claustrophobia but, this book definitely had me with a sense of being closed in … I was sat in the garden reading it…. then I have to mention finger nails even writing this now I am getting a shudder thinking about finger nails being ripped in desperation arghhh, if this was a film I would have looked away, something you cannot do when reading a book. These sort of spine tingling and skin crawling moments are sporadically littered throughout the story.

So from the very outset you are aware of the culprit Larry, he was arrested, charged and sentenced. Jobs a goodun right? Now I am going to mention Florence or Flossie, a young WPC, oh my god how things have changed. Using her own strong character and bloody minded stubbornness she finds herself being involved with the detectives on the case in 1969, sounds great until you realise the patriarchal attitude of male officers at the time. She will be ideal for typing the notes as she is a woman and they are quicker at doing this than men Oh and don’t forget to make the tea. I am so glad that Flossie was portrayed as more than her colleagues thought she was, it was really great to see a female character with occasionally more balls than her male counterparts, even if it did land her in so much trouble. It could also be argued that her male colleagues were just looking out for her, not wanting her to get into disturbing situations. You will make you own decisions about this topic. I am sure I read somewhere ( I hope I got this bit right, gulp) that the author didn’t deliberately set out to raise any sort of awareness about this, and maybe this is why it worked so well for me.

I have to mention the setting of this story, PENDLE….. if you are not aware Pendle has a history with The Witch Trials of the 1600’s. What a setting and how could you not have a book in this area that does not include witchcraft and the occult. I loved the way the author embraced this part of history to include it in the story, it certainly adds to the chills down the spine. There are those that believe in the power of nature, its healing properties, the use of herbs and plants in medicine and in charms or curses, whether you believe in this or not it is up to you. But it added an element of mystery, intrigue and also of a historical interest at the same time upping the suspense even more.

This book is separated into three sections, this gave me a moment to catch a breath and try to arrange my thoughts to some sort of coherent level as I then delved into the next section, and believe me a moment is all you will want to take.

So if you hadn’t already guessed it, this book is bloody awesome. It has so many things going on in it and they are all explained and arranged so that there is no confusion with what is going on. It is about finding the truth, dispelling prejudice and accepting that there are different approaches to finding the truth. I want to write so much more about this book, I am only really skimming the surface here, and about how it made me feel really, but this is all I am giving you 🙂

It’s a suspense filled thriller and murder mystery of the very best sort. I loved it a huge amount as the occult was woven through the investigation. It was spine-tingling and dare I say nail-biting ( I still have the shudders over the nails thing), atmospheric and … hold on …. if you have not got a copy yet, then why the hell not? Take my word for it go and get a copy and see for yourself how fabulously brilliant this book really it.

Would I recommend it? Do you really need to ask LOL? I would definitely, absolutely and highly recommend it!!! xx

About the Author:

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Sharon Bolton (previously S. J. Bolton) is the critically acclaimed author of some of the most bone-chilling crime books ever written. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. In 2014 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her whole body of work. Sharon lives near Oxford with her husband and son.

All images used are from Amazon.co.uk

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Little Cornish Kitchen by June Linfoot @janelinfoot @rararesources #NetGalley #Giveaway (Open Int’lly) #BookReview

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I could not resist being part of the Blog Tour for The Little Cornish Kitchen by June Linfoot. I am supposed to be on a self inflicted Blog Tour break through the summer holidays but I am so glad I had a waver for this cracking book. Huge thanks as always to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite and June for my eBook copy via NetGalley. You can purchase this book from AmazonUK There is also a fab Giveaway towards the end on my post today, you have the chance to win a signed copy of The Little Cornish Kitchen, a Mermaid Notebook and a pack of Unicorns ( oops sorry, sugar unicorns not real ones 😉 ) xx

Synopsis:

It’s time to come home to Cornwall

With an exciting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen…

My Thoughts:

So Clemmie is on a break from her job in Paris and returns to her grandmother apartment in St. Aiden, Cornwall. The apartment was left to Clemmie and it has been a long time since she last visited. She is in St. Aiden for only a few months but her childhood friends coerce and cajole her into setting up The Little Cornish Kitchen. Clemmie needs to raise money for repairs to the apartment and her business minded besties help her raise the much-needed money.

Oh this book should come with a warning of “Do Not Read On An Empty Stomach” as the macaroons, brownies, sorbets and the array of yummy-scrummy-umptious confectionary delicacies start to make an appearance.

The setting is something that definitely appealed to me, as some may be aware, I live in Cornwall and I always like to try to link a books setting to a place I may have visited, this one made me think of a couple of places straight away. This for me made the setting and more importantly the description of said setting work so well for me.

Now this apartment is so me and I could so easily see myself there, in fact can I go right now pleeeease 🙂 It is a mish mash of unmatcing crockery, cutlery and furniture with a balcony overlooking the sea, it sounds snug and magical and absolute perfection.

Oh! I should mention the story and characters as well. The story in some respects is basic but it has been so well put together that I simply fell in love with it.  Clemmie comes home, she is the only one of her friends who hasn’t settled and instead travelled. Her story has a twist and as the story unfolds you realise how her fabulous friends are, they’re supportive and totally brilliant, if a little quirky at times, a group you would definitely love to have a drink with and there would be tons of laughing.

So this is really Clemmie’s story, about how things over the years led her to a life of travel and not settle. But the move gives her something to think about, re-kindles memories and she discovers things that she hadn’t realised she could do or had even occured to her to do. Then there is a neighbour, ‘Well hello there’. He has a few hidden talents that would come in rather handy. I wasn’t too sure on his agenda, if you read the story you will know what I mean.

This was a great story and it ticked a lot of boxes for me; well written, great cast and wonderful descriptions. It was humorous at times and also had moments that had a little more of a serious side. Thoroughly enjoyable and a book that you can definitely loose yourself in, with a heartwarming, uplifting and generally a great ‘mmmmmm good, snuggly feel. This is one I would definitely recommend to readers who look for pure escapism and want a cracking read, even though it did leave me with cake withdrawal symptoms when I had finished 😉 .

About The Author:

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Jane Linfoot is a best selling author, who lives in a muddy cottage, up a steep hill in Derbyshire, with her family, their pets, and an astonishing number of spiders. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea, and wrote her first book by accident, while working as an architect, and renovating country houses. While she loves to write feelgood books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambly if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her latest books include a series of stand alone novels, based around a seaside wedding shop in Cornwall. Cupcakes and Confetti – The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Sequins and Snowflakes – Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, and Bunting and Bouquets – Summer at the Little Wedding Shop, and most recently, The Little Cornish Kitchen. These are all published by Harper Impulse,  an imprint of Harper Collins.

Follow Jane on Twitter @janelinfoot, or find her on her Author Page Facebook or her Personal Page Facebook. She’s also on Instagram, and has lots of Pinterest boards relating to her novels.

∗∗∗∗∗GIVEAWAY ALERT∗∗∗∗∗

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Little Cornish Kitchen, Mermaid Notebook and Sugar Unicorns (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. ∗∗∗∗∗ ENTER HERE ∗∗∗∗∗ Good Luck folks xxx

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One Summer In Italy by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #NetGalley #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be bring you my thoughts on One Summer In Italy by Sue Moorcroft. If you are after a heartwarming summer read then this will be one of those you want to add to your list. To make it easier for you here is the link to get yourself a copy from AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

My Thoughts:

When Sofia follows her fathers last wishes and promises him that she will visit Italy, his home and while there to pass on a message to his brother. While there Sofia meets Amy, a young woman who has left home after finding her dad isn’t actually her real dad.

From quite an emotional start to an emotional ending this author had me hooked in this beautiful story. It is one of people not only discovering things about themselves and their families but, about finding themselves.

I liked Sophia, she has level-headed and down to earth approach, but also with a cautious nature and yet still able to take a risk. Amy I didn’t like quite as much but that was more to do with the naivety of her character, and her ability to throw temper tantrums. This however is her coping mechanism for life and it did feel right for her as I got to know her more.

As much as I liked Sophia, there were times I wanted to tell her to go and enjoy herself more as I felt that the cautious nature did hold her back at times. So with that and Amy’s petulant outbursts it made it very interesting reading as I discovered the dynamics behind their friendship. I am so glad they met as Sophia could see and help with Amy’s vulnerability.

Now then there is a romantic side to this story, and I really loved this part as well. It is not too over the top and is actually the part of the story that adds the links between the other things going on. So then I got to meet Levi mmmm, oops sorry 🙂  he has his own story to tell and he is another character I liked just a little bit 😉

There various stories that the author has weaved around theses three characters, they each have their own reasons for being in Italy and you will discover the ins and outs of their lives as you are taken around the beautiful setting. Other characters pop in and have their own opinions, some more vocal than others.

This is a book I have wanted to read for a while now and it was perfect for sitting in my garden with. The settings and descriptions were wonderful and allowed me to visualise various aspects of the Italian village. This is a book that does deal with some serious threads and scenarios running through it and for me they were dealt with sympathetically and also realistically. I was able to see viewpoints from different characters so making it possible to see various arguments.

So I really enjoyed reading this book a whole lot, it is heartwarming and beautifully written, I had grinning face at some points, teary eyes at others, there were some secrets that caught me by surprise and some that I did see coming. I felt that by the end of the story that I had got to know Sophia, Amy and Levi quite well, their stories were developed and flowed to a very satisfying ending. This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers who want to escape into a story of family, love and self discovery. Ideal for readers of general fiction, women’s fiction xx

About the Author:

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Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, an international bestselling author and has held the #1 spot in the UK Kindle chart. She writes contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.

Sue has won a Best Romantic Read Award, received two nominations at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. Her short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’ have sold around the world.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a digital prepress. She’s pleased to have now wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

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The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @MichaelJBooks #NetGalley #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen with you today. This book came on holiday with me and joined me sat beside the River Teign in Devon. My thanks to Michael Joseph Publishing for my copy of the book. If you would like to buy a copy it comes in various formats and can be found on AMAZON

Synopsis:

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

My Thoughts:

William and Clare Woolfe met at university and got married. They settle into marriage and also working life and over time the dreams they had at university gradually diminish. Life and work becomes a routine.

This story is told from the perspective of both Clare and William and I got to learn more about them as individuals as well as a couple. Clare has a successful career in law, though her original love is of art. William works in the Lost Letters Dept of the Post Office, just a temporary job until he became an author, this job now seems rather permanent.

William’s job entails him finding the recipients of those letters that have been wrongly addressed, address is missing or damaged. One day he finds a distinctive envelope and letter and is very taken with it, wanting to more about it and its author.

As his investigations with the letter progress I found another story, that of William and Clare. They are caught in that rut of routine in their marriage. They are a normal couple living normal lives but that have just lost that bit of sparkle.

So essentially you are given two stories, that of the letter and that of the marriage. This is where I may be right off the mark but, I think it’s like a comparison of what the perfect relationship in a letter is against actual relationships. The letter, or I should say letters as there are several, are beautiful in their sentiments and wording. They talk of dreams and plans for the future and for happiness and love. William and Clare have lost their youthful and exciting dreams, and though they still love each other they are frayed and fraught.

Life and the way you see it can sometimes narrow into a tunnel, it doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture. At times we need to step out of our comfort zone of routine, rotas and timetables and experience new things, visit new places and above all dream. The letters allow William to do that.

So this is a book that is almost an enigma from the synopsis. I thought I would be reading about the letters that had gone astray, and while they do play a part in the story it is not all the story is. Once I realised what was happening I was able to enjoy the story of William and Clare and their lives as individuals and as a couple.

It is a gentle paced story that is quiet and thoughtful, not quite what I expected given the synopsis but non the less I thoroughly enjoyed. A book that I would recommend to readers of contemporary and literary fiction and is a beautiful story that I would definitely recommend.

About he Author:

A1Nruu1t2qL._SY200_.jpg Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published this year, 2018 in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Israel.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.

Follow Helen on her – Website – Twitter

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

 

183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan @EvaJordanWriter #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be sharing my thoughts on 183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while now (shame on me) and I am delighted to have finally read this fabulous book. You can purchase a copy in either e-book or paperback from AMAZON UK. My huge thanks to Eva for my e-copy of the book that agreed to read for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life. 

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud. 

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course. 

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way. 

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

My Thoughts:

There are times when I agree to a book and it just sits on my TBR shelf on my kindle, then when I do eventually get around to reading it I could kick myself for not getting to it sooner 183 Times A Year is such a book.

This is a story of a family, well two families actually that through circumstances come together to live as one, they are step families. Teenage daughters, a younger son and two parents trying to support each other in this family unit, oh and grand parents. Drama and hysterics from the teenage girls, drama from friends and lack of drama from an absent father add an interesting cocktail of emotions into this story.

As I have already mentioned, I could so kick myself for not reading this sooner, the only time I stopped reading this book was to make another cup of coffee, only to let it go cold again…. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, emotional, realistic and wonderfully written story of Lizzie and her family, Lizzie is the mum by the way.

The author has broken the story down into chapters with sub chapters and tells the story from the perspectives of mainly Lizzie and her daughter Cassie, though other family member do have the odd spotlight moment, each of these sub chapters had their own title of the character who was telling the story, but to be honest I soon got to know the characters so didn’t actually look at these headings. This for me was the moment I realised how well the author had allowed me to get to know the characters, she had given each one their own individuality, style and their own voice.

The story itself is about angst, rebellion, pushing the boundaries and the teenage world of “my life is so unfair”. But it is also about a mum working, running a home and the children to various events as well as keeping home. It portrays life for many families who have to juggle many balls, with a dad who is caught up in the middle of trying to keep the peace and support everyone.

What made this story so special for me was how the author had created an addictive read from what is essentially an everyday life for many families. She has accurately captured the emotions and struggles and managed to blend in a certain amount of humour.

There are elements from three generations that work so well, they have been balanced to create a realistic and very believable story that had me knowingly nodding my head at some of the scenarios, grinning and smirking at others as life, school, work and boyfriends are explored.

I absolutely loved this book from the very start to the last pages, I didn’t want to leave and was gutted when I finished the book. It had me grinning one moment, frowning the next and at one point absolutely crying ugly. This is a story that I would absolutely highly recommend to readers of women’s fiction, contemporary and literary fiction with a focus on family life.

A beautiful story and to quote Grandad, from the book , “it’s not life, it’s an adventure” sums it up xx

 

About the Author:

B1YE2zI6lhS._SY200_Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novel, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. 183 Times A Year is Eva’s debut novel.

You can find Eva on Twitter Instagram Website – or join her each morning on Facebook for a cup of coffee or later in the day for a glass of wine xx

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Sisterly Love by Michelle Vernal @MichelleVernal @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Sisterly Love by Michelle Vernal as part of the blog tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. You can grab a copy of this book from AMAZON UK or AMAZON.COM

Synopsis:

Nobody’s Perfect Are They?

Rebecca Loughton’s bumbled her way through her thirty-something years making a few cock-ups along the way. Of course, these wouldn’t be so obvious if it wasn’t for her golden haired, older sister Jennifer.

In a bid to escape Jennifer’s lengthy shadow and to find her happy ever after Rebecca, high-tails it out of her hometown of Christchurch to the other side of the world landing a legal secretary job in the buzzing city of Dublin. A few drinks later, all she has to show for her new life is an embarrassing one-night stand and a dollop of flirtatious banter with her boss Ciaran, who just happens to have a predatory receptionist in hot pursuit of him.

Amidst plans of preventing such a merger, Rebecca receives news that Jennifer’s picture perfect life has a big, fat crack down the middle of it in the form of a philandering husband. Summoned home to look after her sister’s children and cooking school while she works on her marriage, Rebecca finds the reality of looking after two young children along with the bizarre array of guests booked into the cooking school grim. The only bright spot on her horizon are Ciaran’s e-mails but then she meets David Seagar whom she thinks might just be the ending to her happy ever after but will he prove to be far from perfect too?

My Thoughts:

Two sisters. Rebecca the younger lives in Dublin working as a PA. Jennifer lives in Christchurch,is a mum of two, a successful business woman and in Rebecca’s eyes has everything. A call from Jennifer asking Rebecca to come home is unexpected, especially as she is to be looking after Jennifer’s two children.

This is a story about two sisters that have grown apart, you get a chance to see how both women live and also what they think of each other. It contrasts the lives of them, the sensible, down to earth and responsible settled older sister against the slightly reckless antics of the younger. Rebecca looking after two children is definitely something that made me snigger and shake my head.

The story is quite an addictive read as I got to know Rebecca, she has a good job with a gorgeous boss. She does like to party and drink, and that has landed her in the odd hot spot. Jennifer who comes across as the in control of everything sister, does not quite fit the image she portrays. As the two get to catch up you begin to see how they are with each other, not the closest of sisters with their battles and arguments, but behind all of that they are there for each other when needed.

This is a great read that explores the dynamics between Rebecca and Jennifer, it has some wonderful descriptions and I did get wrapped up with their story. There is a love or romance side that has been incorporated, I am not going into details about that or to be honest the rest of the plot as I don’t want to spoil it. I did see a couple of things coming, but there were others that I didn’t.

This is a great book to spend a lazy Sunday reading ( that’s what I did), it is romance, sisters, humour, food, a touch of drama and one I would recommend. The author has managed to thread in a 1980’s pop quiz in as well, I like this touch and I knew all the answers 😀

About the Author:

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Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavoured my books.

I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week! The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a North Canterbury lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.

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What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean @CarrieKablean @RedDoorBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #BookReview

 

9781910453612I am sharing my thoughts on “What Kitty Did Next” by Carrie Kablean, this is available to purchase from Amazon UK in paperback or ebook format. My thanks to Red Door Books and Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for my ebook and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.
Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Thoughts:

As is the norm for me, I tucked into this book without reading the synopsis and I couldn’t help thinking I had heard of these characters somewhere before, I also had a voice of some of them in my head, it was strange so I read the synopsis and realised that this was a book about Kitty Bennett, one of the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen’s classic book and love the film.

So a new to me author writes a book about characters I am already familiar with, this is quite bazaar. I remember Kitty and Lydia being the really silly annoying girls, who were fixated with “Officers”, getting noticed and married. The author has taken over the story of Kitty and I really loved the way she has done this. The often left out one, ignored one or in the way and stupid one, my heart really did go out to her. It was great to see a change in this character grow and develop. Once out of the shadow of Lydia, Kitty comes to the realisation that she is indeed very childish and in order to be more readily listened to she must learn to grow up.

As the story progresses the author has not made it easy for Kitty, there are some obstacles that have been added and it is interesting to see how Kitty approaches these and acts to them. I really found myself warming to her as the story continued and it wasn’t long before I was willing her onward to find what she wanted in her life.

The whole feeling of the story from start to finish oozed the sense of fashion, social gatherings, etiquette as along with the setting I felt as if I had been transported back into the early 1800’s and a great continuation to a story I adore.

I would absolutely recommend this to readers of historical fiction, romance and general fiction. It is a story that continues on from a classic and reads well as a stand alone. If you are not a reader of classics then do not be put off, this is a fabulous and well paced book that will appeal to many readers.

About the Author:

Carrie Kablean began her career in London, where she was born, and now lives in Australia. Arriving in Sydney in 1990 (via eight years in Papua New Guinea, during which time she edited the local newspaper on Bougainville), she was with The Australian newspaper for more than 20 years, and was, concurrently, a theatre critic for the Sunday Telegraph.

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What Kitty Did next

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx