#BookReview A Little Christmas Charm by Kathryn Freeman #happypublicationday @ChocLituk

About the book

A wonderful new uplifting Christmas story from Kathryn Freeman to put you in the festive mood. Highly recommended 


Would you swap sea and sunshine for tinsel and turkey?
Gabby Sanderson is used to being let down – even at Christmas. Which is why she’s happy to skip the festive season completely in favour of a plane ticket and sunnier climes.

But this Christmas could be different, because this time she might not be spending it alone. Can Owen Cooper charm Gabby into loving Christmas in the same way he’s charmed his way into her life, or is he just another person who’ll end up disappointing her?

Published by Choc Lit

Publication Day – 16th October 2018

Purchase Links

Just 99p!! A bargain!!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

iTunes

Kobo

Google Play

MY REVIEW

Another sweet treat of a read from the wonderful Kathryn Freeman.  

The story starts in the build up to Christmas and life at work has just picked up for Owen as he spots Gabby and he’s smitten!  Is it wise to start a work relationship though? Gabby is just as smitten with the seemingly confident salesman, but she senses he’s a flirty character and that is just the way he acts with everyone, so maybe she’s reading too much into his glances and attention!

But as they begin to spend more time together, they both allow themselves to open up to one another and as their pasts have scarred them, it is no wonder that they both seem a little reluctant to jump right into a relationship. But they are both such endearing characters that you quickly warm to their ways and wish they’d both be brave and embrace their time together.

With Christmas fast approaching there’s always going to be some extra drama to muddy the water and it’s how they both deal with the problems facing them that tug at your heartstrings and make this such a satisfying story.  I just wish it could have gone on for longer as I loved spending time in their company! Fabulous!!

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Week 40 2018

Hello!!  It’s all beginning to look a lot like Autumn round these parts- but not feeling like it yet as it’s still weirdly very mild and muggy!

And on the book front things are still chugging along nicely! Another 4 books finished this week, despite having a much slower pace of reading as my brain was on a go slow , and the hauling is continuing at a scary pace so that needs to be worked on….. on a positive note, I stayed away from Netgalley!!!  

So here’s a quick look at my week in bookish form, click on the book titles for a link to their GoodReads pages!

BOOKS FINISHED

The Widow by Fiona Barton  –  5 stars

Listened to the audio version of this and really loved it!

The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke –  4 stars

Such a lovely read whatever time of the year you pick it up! Loved this series!

One Magical Christmas by Berni Stevens  –  4 stars

The perfect festive read with all the magical feels!!

A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor   –  4 stars

Another fascinating book from this author. A great study of characters!

BOOKHAUL

A mix of books I felt I needed to treat myself to this week – we all deserve treats don’t we?! – and some lovely books sent from publishers ahead of Blog Tours!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton – proof copy

Published by Bantam Press – 24th January 2019

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

 

The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson by Helen Kitson  – proof copy

Published by Louise Walters Books – 7th March 2019

Once upon a time Gabrielle Price wrote and published an extraordinary novel.

But twenty years on her literary star has dimmed, her “work of genius” is all but forgotten, and no further novels have materialized. She now lives an unremarkable life: middle-aged, living alone in the sleepy village she grew up in, and working as a housekeeper for the local vicar. Her lonely existence is dominated by memories of her best friend Madeleine, who died young, in tragic and mysterious circumstances.

Gabrielle’s quiet world is turned upside down when she meets and befriends Simon – young, attractive, a would-be writer, and enthusiastic fan of the astonishing novel that Gabrielle published all those years ago. Charmed and flattered, she recklessly invites him into her home and her heart. But Simon is mysterious and manipulative, and it’s not long before he forces Gabrielle to confront the demons in her past. Gabrielle’s obsession begins to destroy her carefully cultivated life, and she comes to feel increasingly threatened by Simon’s presence. Who is he? Why did he seek her out? And what does he really want?

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox – proof copy

Published by HQ – 18th October 2018

“It was the Bishop boy who started it all…”Boston, 1811: The Salem Witch Trials are over one hundred years in the past, and America is a changed place. Lydia Montrose is a young girl, enraged by the cruel boy who torments her. When she confronts him in the street, she draws a disbelieving crowd, and she cannot quite remember what she’s done.Ten years later, Lydia finds herself in a carriage bound for the rural New Oldbury, Massachusetts, her family fleeing Boston in the wake of a scandal connected to her older sister, Catherine, her own engagement to a promising young man abruptly broken. The stately Willow Hall, which Mr. Montrose built as a summer retreat for his family, is now the only home the Montroses can have.Lydia resents that she’s lost everything. But her resentment turns to disquiet when it becomes apparent that Willow Hall hides dark secrets that no one in the Montrose family could have predicted, like the ominous messages Lydia keeps receiving: “You attract them. Prepare.” And Mr. Montrose’s handsome business partner, John Barrett, seems to begrudge that Mr. Montrose has brought his family with him to Willow Hall.When whatever lurks in the house and its surrounding woods does the unthinkable, Lydia knows she is the only one who can stop it. Summoning powers she barely understands, Lydia must engage the forces around her to keep her family safe, while protecting the blossoming love she has with John–who has secrets of his own.

And then I went browsing on https://www.hive.co.uk/ and felt the need to treat myself to these!

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink by Scarlett Curtis

An urgent and inspirational collection of essays by a diverse group of celebrities, activists, and artists about what feminism means to them, with the goal of helping readers come to their own personal understanding of the word.
Feminism has never been more deeply and widely embraced and discussed, but what exactly does the F word mean?
Here, personal stories from actors, writers, and activists explore the contradictions and complications at the heart of the movement. By bridging the gap between feminist hashtags and scholarly texts, these essays bring feminism into clear focus.

Every woman has a different route to their personal understanding of feminism. This empowering collection shows how a diverse group of women found their voice, and it will inspire others to do the same

Paper Girls Vol 2 by Brian K.Vaughan

Paper Girls Vol 3 by Brian K.Vaughan

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – signed edition

Here is a story told inside out and back to front

Five Dunbar brothers are living – fighting, loving, grieving – in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Today, the father who left them has just walked right back in.
He has a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him?

It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfil this extraordinary challenge?

Bridge of Clay is about a boy caught in a current, a boy intent on destroying everything he has in order to become everything he needs to be. Ahead of him lies the bridge, the vision that will save both his family and himself.

It will be a miracle and nothing less.

At once an existential riddle and a search for redemption, this tale of five brothers coming of age in a house with no rules brims with energy, joy and pathos. Written in Markus Zusak’s distinctive style, it is a tour de force from a master storyteller of the heart.

CURRENTLY READING

Where the What Ifs Roam and the moon is Louis Armstrong by Esther Krivda

Emily Nation by Alec McQuay

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So now to catch up on some reviews – my least favourite part of reading at the moment haha – and to work up a plan of what books might lie ahead for me in the next 7 days!  Hope your bookish week has been a good one!!

HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg #bookreview @Bookollective

Extremely delighted to be the next stop on the Blog Tour for this stunning book. My thanks to the author, publisher and team at Bookollective for inviting me to be part of the fun!

About the book

Yes, we may have eyes that look, but how clearly do we see? Julia Grigg’s compelling novel, The Eyes That Look, set amidst the feverish creativity and competition of mid-sixteenth-century Italy, tells the story of Francesco Bassano, a young man who questions why an extraordinary painting was made and sets off to find out. His journey takes him across the Veneto and to Florence, where he learns about loyalty and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs, about the determination it takes to innovate, and about the sacrifices needed to turn ambitions into reality. Witness to astonishing achievements in art and architecture, Francesco is enthralled and uplifted but also exposed to human frailty and inhumanity. Thinking anew about truth and beauty, he also experiences bitter betrayal.

A novel steeped in the visual and tactile power of art, The Eyes that Look entertains as it informs, inviting readers to revel in a Renaissance world of unrivalled artistic richness.

Published by Unicorn Publishing

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £10.75

waterstones  £13.00

foyles  £13.00

About the Author

Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these subjects but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues and over many years was deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries. 

Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing from which she graduated with Distinction. Early drafts of the novel were longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize and for the Aurora Metro Virginia Prize for New Writing by Women in English. 

The Eyes that Look was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language. 

Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look. 

Cornish in origin, Julia divides her time between the UK and Nairobi, Kenya, spending as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds. 

Author on Twitter

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a beautifully written book that transports you back to Italy in the Mid 16th Century and brings the sights and sounds to life with such astonishing attention to detail.  The colours literally ping off the pages as you read!

I’m often a little sceptical of books about the art world and paintings – how much can be written about a particular painting?! But with this story we go beyond the art, and to the story behind this famous painting mixed with historical facts that blend so well.

It did take me a while to get into the flow of the story as I was a little unsure of what to expect, but once I’d got my head around the characters I found this so easy to read and so captivating as you follow a young man on his quest to discover more about his father, and more of the artwork he created.  There are so many mentions of artists we’ve all heard of, and the way they are used adds such flavour to the story.  It’s also told from a number of different Points of View so you’re always getting different sides to stories, varying glimpses of life and seeing young  Francesco have his opinions changed as he discovers more about the story of this painting that was very unusual for the time.

There is no better setting for a historical mystery than Venice, and the way this is written is stunning.  I couldn’t get over how much colour plays a part in setting the story – it was so vivid!  It left me wanting to read more about the artists and period of history. The author obviously has a clear love of Art as her devotion to the story and understanding of that world makes you connect with the characters so much more.

The lessons he learns on his journey teach him so much and you can’t help embrace the same message as you read.  It explores the relationship between father and son and how we often see people differently because they are family and that it takes others perceptions to allow you to see them as they really are.

A stunning read and one I can highly recommend to others who are looking for something a little different.

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#bookreview The Widow by Fiona Barton

About the book

‘The ultimate psychological thriller’ Lisa Gardner

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Du Maurier’s REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.

‘My book of the year so far’ C. L. Taylor, author of THE LIE

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

book depository

MY REVIEW

This book has been my obsession for the past few days, as I listened to the audio version via Borrowbox. And it was so wonderful to hear it all brought to life so stunningly by the narrator – and I loved the bonus interview at the end too between her and the author which added so much more to the reading experience!

This is the story of Jean Taylor, who has led a very quiet life until her husband Glen is accused of kidnapping a young child. Surely not her Glen? She stands by him as the press and police close the net convinced they have found their man. We then hear the story not only from Jean’s point of view, but also from the perspective of a journalist wanting the exclusive story and the detective leading the investigation to find the missing girl. The timeline is from now when Jean is widowed and also goes back to the past when the media circus was camped outside her door from dawn to dusk.

I had so many questions in my head as I read through this – how does somebody stand by someone accused of such horrific things? What lengths do the press go to in getting that exclusive aspect of a story? And how does a police force build up a case where there is very little evidence or witnesses? And the author has done an amazing job of exploring all these avenues throughout as she follows the story of the missing 2 year old. You are left with so many conflicting emotions as the story goes through a number of revelations that leave you shocked, upset, angry and most of all intrigued as to the outcome of the story.

The journalist and the detectives sides to the story really added an extra dimension to the book – it was fascinating to see how the case consumed the detective and how he wouldn’t settle until he’d looked at all aspects to those under suspicion. And with the journalist it was interesting to see how their minds worked in relation to getting different sides to a story.

I found this to be such a gripping and fascinating story that I was sad when it came to an end. Looking forward to reading more from this author very soon!!

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#BlogTour Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #bookreview @rararesources

Hugely excited to be able to share my thoughts on CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE DUCK POND CAFE by Rosie Green today as part of this fabulous Blog Tour. My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!

Christmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe

Fen has always hated being the centre of attention. She loves her new job, working behind the scenes at the Little Duck Pond Cafe and baking the scrumptious cakes that have helped its reputation soar. But frankly, she’d rather scrub the public toilet floor with a toothbrush than have to come out and talk to the customers. She’s always been happy to stay in the background as long as she has a good supply of books to escape into. That’s her kind of romance – the fictional sort where she can read about other people taking a chance on love, but she doesn’t have to risk her own heart. But that was before Ethan Fox arrived in the village and turned her world upside down. Ethan is a leading light in the local amateur dramatics theatre company and Fen knows he’s way out of her league. But when the popular village Christmas pantomime hits a crisis, Fen and Ethan find themselves thrown together. Can Fen overcome her shyness and find the courage to step on stage and save the day?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. The first two stories in the series are: Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe and Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Author on Twitter

MY REVIEW

A welcome return to the wonderful setting of The Little Duck Pond Cafe, and this novella features Fen who is a much quieter member of the team. Always happy to be in the background but always smiling and happy to help people when needed! She’s at her happiest when she’s alone with a book and dreaming of Mr Darcy sweeping her off her feet! Just a shame that the real world doesn’t work out like that too often!

Her shyness never really bothers her but she starts to feel in a rut and wants to get out of her comfort zone a little, and when the dreamy Ethan invites her to join the local Am Dram group, maybe this is her chance to shine and get that romance book relationship she’s always dreamt of! The more she starts to join in with things, the more she comes out of her shell and believes in herself a little bit more. She is good enough to achieve what she wants and maybe that means she gets the guy too!

It was lovely being back in this world and nice to be able to catch up with some of the other much loved characters too from previous books. She’s always a good friend to those around her, and Ellie is in real need of a friend at the moment as her life is about to be rocked.

The only problem Fen finds is that reality doesn’t always live up to the fantasy so she begins to wonder if she made the right choice of getting involved with things.

I always read this series with a huge smile on my face! The characters have become friends as we follow them on their journeys and this story flew by and I can’t wait for another installment – hopefully soon!!

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#bookreview A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor #bookblogger

About the book

An unforgettable picture of love, loss and the keeping up of appearances. Published as part of a beautifully designed series to mark the 40th anniversary of the Virago Modern Classics.

In the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for – and in on – each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high. Beautiful divorcee Tory is painfully involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory’s best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.

Published by  Virago Press

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

Book Depository

waterstones

MY REVIEW

This was the October choice for the Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project – a group I belong to on GoodReads.

To be fair, I was a little overwhelmed when first reading this as the number of characters introduced in this little community was a little confusing and I often found myself turning back the pages to try and work out who was who again, but once I had a clear picture in my mind of the relationships and characteristics, I found this to be a slow but really engaging book that follows a variety of characters, not all pleasant, in a sleepy village. But their antics are far from sleepy and were an insightful look at the behaviour of people, friends and acquaintances, and how we treat people of different ages.

There isn’t much that happens throughout the book, but that is where the author works her magic as you begin to understand the characters, and the way she picks up little quirks in their ways, and how often things are happening right under your nose which makes it too difficult to see. Or maybe you do see it and you just don’t want to believe it?

At times the treatment of some characters felt quite harsh in how they were being treated by others, but by the end it became quite touching in how a community rallied round those in need, as well as the touches of humour throughout that really light up the story. 

 Very glad I got to read it – and the cover is a stunner too!

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#TopTenTuesday The Longest Books I’ve Read #bookblogger

Another fabulous topic today for Top Ten Tuesday and that is the longest books you’ve ever read!  I love this choice from ThatArtsyReaderGirl who started the Top Ten Tuesday fun – please check out her site for upcoming topics!

So I’ve just headed back to GoodReads to sort through the stats and it has made for some interesting reading as I discover those big chunksters of books that I’ve picked up over the years!  Here’s a look!

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio  – 909 pages

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer  756 pages

Hiding From The Light by Barbara Erskine  – 736 pages

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown  – 736 pages

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova   –  704 pages

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy  – 704 pages

The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H.Wolfe – 660 pages

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy  – 648 pages

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton  – 648 pages

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer  – 629 pages

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