Sometimes the best things start in the strangest ways …. with a giggle! On a night out in Edinburgh, single mum Liza-Belle Graham finds herself revealing her hopes and dreams to a green-eyed stranger. Liza always wanted to run an “arty-crafty-booky” business, and she’s seen the perfect empty shop to make her dreams a reality. No harm in telling the stranger. It’s not like she’ll see him again …
But Scott McCreadie is no mystery man – he’s an interior designer looking for new premises. And who does Liza bump into when she arranges a viewing? None other than Scott trying to steal her perfect shop! Is Liza’s arty-crafty-booky dream in jeopardy, or is a new dream about to begin?
There’s romance, drama, fun and a cat that always steals the show – what more do you want from a book?! It’s always wonderful to reconnect with characters from the Schubert series (Every Witch Way and A Christmas Secret ) and this time with get to follow the story of single mum Liza and Scott, who is Nessa’s brother. They meet when she’s on a rare night out and there’s a spark between them, but then that could be the booze that Liza has been drinking! She opens up to him about her plans for her future business as she hopes to open an ‘arty crafty bookstore’ (don’t we all?!). He’s also on the lookout for new premises for his interior design business, and when they find themselves looking at the same place their ‘attraction’ soon becomes ‘irritation’!
When the owner of the building comes up with a compromise it’s fun to watch to see if it works out for the both of them, and with Liza’s daughter Isa becoming firm friends with both Scott and Schubert, then maybe Liza can’t be too negative about Scott for too long. He has a ‘sarky’ side but also shows himself to be very understanding and compassionate. Liza has been on her own for quite sometime now so is used to doing things her way and looking out for her daughter, so maybe someone new on the scene is a little daunting for her.
I found this latest installment in the series to be just as much fun to read as the others. I loved seeing how Schubert made his presence felt as always, and the characters in his world were just as fun to follow. It was heartwarming, dramatic and I had all the feels as the story evolved with a rather dramatic and unexpected twist!
It’s back! And I almost forgot! Oops!! Hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, it’s a chance to share a song or video you love!
So I’ve gone topical today and with talk of it being ‘BLUE MONDAY’ today as the most miserable monday of the year so far all over the radio and TV today, so I had to pick New Order! Enjoy!!
How does it feel To treat me like you do? When you’ve laid your hands upon me And told me who you are? Thought I was mistaken I thought I heard your words Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how do I feel?
Those who came before me Lived through their vocations From the past until completion They’ll turn away no more And I still find it so hard To say what I need to say But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me Just how I should feel today
I see a ship in the harbor I can and shall obey But if it wasn’t for your misfortune I’d be a heavenly person today And I thought I was mistaken And I thought I heard you speak Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how should I feel?Now I stand here waiting
I thought I told you to leave me While I walked down to the beach Tell me, how does it feel When your heart grows cold?
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
This was an unexpected little gem of a book! I knew nothing of it before I picked up a copy, and found myself totally swept along with the compelling and often heartbreaking story of 2 sisters who are dealing with a number of tragedies in their lives, but they have one another. Lucille and Ruth are devoted to one another as they’re pushed from pillar to post with various family members over the years, until they settle down with their Aunt Sylvie.
What becomes clear is that Sylvie is not the most stable of women to be caring for 2 young girls, but there’s something about her that Ruth and Lucille connect with, even if that means they live a very unstable life while under the care of Sylvie. Skipping school becomes the norm, and haphazard meals is what they come to expect.
As the girls grow, they start to become their own people, none more so than Lucille and she seems to crave ‘normality’ and finds herself drifting apart from her sister and aunt to live a more conventional life. So Ruth becomes more attached to her aunt and the two of them seem more like sisters at time.
This was beautifully written and a haunting read as you cared for these women as they’d been scarred by so much tragedy in their lives. It’s a subtle story that never goes OTT and one to be savoured.
Hello all! And welcome back to the weekend! Been a fairly quiet week for me, although keep hearing sad news so I’m already looking forward to seeing the back of January! I hate New Year!
On to books, and I’ve only managed to finish 1 book off this week which is a bit of a slow down for me! I’ve spent more evenings doing xstitch than reading this past week so that’s cut down my reading time, but seeing as I’ve just downloaded a new 50 page xstitch chart, I need to find ways to fit more stitching time into my day! I really should find less time consuming hobbies!
And remember me saying I was going to spend less time at Netgalley…. 3 new additions over there this week! I fail!! I’ll try to do better next week….. honest!
A spellbinding novel of a young doctor’s wife, Isabel Aird, struggling to make her childless life meaningful, unaware that the sinister Robert Kirke is watching her every move, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Sally Magnusson.
Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.
But Isabel Aird, denied the motherhood role society expects of her by a succession of miscarriages, is comforted by a place where she can feel the presence of her lost children and begin to work out what her life is for.
No matter that the hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of men tunnelling day and night to bring fresh water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away – digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself.
New life is quickening within her again. While her husband is engaged with the medical emergencies of the construction site, Isabel can only wait.
But someone else is waiting too. The man in the dark coat, watching for the right moment with a huntsman’s eye . . .
By turns spellbinding and heart-pounding, The Ninth Child is set at a pivotal time in the Victorian era, when engineering innovation and new ideas flourished but women did not. Through the dual lens of history and folklore it captures a woman’s struggle to make her life matter, and a compromised man’s struggle with himself.
CONFESSIONS OF A FORTY-SOMETHING F*** UP by ALEXANDRA POTTER
out April 2020
Hilarious, poignant, and utterly relatable, Confessions of a Forty-Something F### Up is a must-read for anyone whose life isn’t working out quite how they’d planned.
Nell Stevens’ life is a mess.
Until recently she’s been living in America with Ethan, her fiancé. But when her bookshop-cum-café goes bust – along with her relationship and all her savings – she moves back to London to start over.
But a lot has changed since she’s been gone. All her single friends are happily married with children and with rents sky-high she’s forced to rent a room while she looks for a job.
Left out of the mummy club, Nell feels left behind, she misses her friends. When an old work contact gets her a job writing obituaries, she meets Cricket, an eighty-something widow who never had kids and they strike up an unlikely friendship.
Whereas Nell’s friends are all busy with their families, all Cricket’s friends are dying off. They help each other cope with the loss of their old lives and navigate towards new ones with optimism, poignancy and humour. Everyone has a path to their perfect life. It’s knowing when to take the right turn.
Instantly relatable in an Instagram-perfect world, Confessions of a Forty Something F### Up is for women of any age who wonders why life isn’t working out quite how she imagined.
THE PARIS LIBRARY by JANET SKESLIEN CHARLES
publication date – June 2020
Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers. Yet when war is declared, there’s also a war on words.
Montana, 1983. Widowed and alone, Odile suffers the solitary confinement of small-town life. Though most adults are cowed by her, the neighbor girl will not let her be. Lily, a lonely teenager yearning to break free of Froid is obsessed by the older French woman who lives next door and wants to know her secrets.
As the two become friends, Odile sees herself in Lily – the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. The Paris Library’s dual narratives explore the relationships that make us who we are – family and friends, first loves and favorite authors – in the fairy tale setting of the City of Light. It also explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of unspeakable betrayal, and what happens when the people we count on for understanding and protection fail us.
The wit, empathy, and deep research that brings The Paris Library to life also brings to light a cast of lively historical characters and a little-known chapter of World War II history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.
HAMNET by MAGGIE O’FARRELL
publication date – 31st March 2020
Extremely chuffed to have received a proof of this from the publicist this week!
Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.
REAL LIFE by ADELINE DIEUDONNE
copy for review ahead of the February Blog tour
A fierce and poetic debut on surviving the wilderness of family life
At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world. The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.
Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!
‘A great tale… the golden thread that led to the crown of England’
‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times
‘Rich and warm’ Sunday Express
‘Bewitching…alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping
My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin anddark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing…
When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive …
Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.
This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m already itching to read her other historical offerings, as I found this to be both absorbing and informative and loved finding out even more about the Tudor period and the characters surrounding the court of King Henry VII’s. And with the story of Joan being so captivating and full of material, I was instantly transported back as this story takes us chronologically through the goings on at a very interesting period of history.
Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Henry’s Queen, and seeing the world at that time through both their eyes was fascinating. Joan is adamant she wants more from life than just to be a mother, where that is all that Elizabeth expects her role to be! Her King needs heirs. Seeing the expectations placed on women at that time is really brought home in an easy and accessible way through this storyline, and with all the royal goings on in the news at the moment, it is still shocking to see that in the past it was all decided politically and by others – where does love get you anyway?!
I loved how the characters around the royals related the story – the gossiping while they worked, the clothing they wore and how much work went into preparing the clothing for the big events such as the wedding.
The expectations on Joan to marry were difficult for her and it seemed in the end that she married to stay close to the Tower and the ravens who she had such a fascination and respect for. The way she dealt with being a stepmother means she’s thrown in at the deep end, but she seemed to be one of those women who were wise beyond her years and could cope with pretty much anything that was thrown her way. Her one big fear though was pregnancy and it was enlightening to see the ways she tried to avoid that event happening to her!
Another aspect of the story I loved was discovering different palaces that are now long gone – when they were mentioned by name I found myself researching them online and it opened up more interest for me on this time of history. Why was it never this fascinating to me when I was at school?!
Seeing the story from both Joan and Elizabeth’s point of view, made this for such an entertaining historical read and I’m glad to have found a new author to me who does a wonderful job of sharing her passion for history through relatable and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.
But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?
Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision
Another stunner of a story from B.A.Paris and this one centres around the hidden cost of keeping a secret, so as not to spoil a big day – one of those that has you constantly thinking ‘what would you do in the same situation?’. And I still don’t know what I’d do, and if there’s a wrong or right way of dealing with such a traumatic event.
Livia is eagerly awaiting her 40th birthday party. When many want to forget their age and not make a big fuss, she’s been planning this for years. It’s a big deal to her! And her husband Adam knows this, that is why he’s faced with an awful decision when he hears horrific news. Dare he tell her straight away? Maybe if he waits, then things won’t be as bad as he first fears? He’s in a no win situation.
The story is told in alternating points of view – from the wife and the husband – and I found myself totally immersed in their lives and seeing the story unfold in this manner. The tension really builds up as you get caught up in the excitement Livia feels for her party, alongside the devastation that her husband feels as he waits for news on the horrific event that has caused him so much worry and anxiety. You live every moment with him and my heart kept breaking as he tried to put a brave face on things knowing he and Olivia’s world could be changing forever and there was nothing he could do about it.
There are darker secrets revealed along the way which just add to the complexities of family life and how tragedy can often reveal a side to people that you may not wish to confront. It explores the dynamics within a family and how relationships are pushed to the extremes.
This story briliantly portrays the toll a devastating secret takes on the person in the know and I loved every single second of it!!!
My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.
The lives of two women—the sole survivor of an airplane crash and the troubled park ranger who leads the rescue mission to find her —intersect in a gripping debut novel of hope and resilience, second thoughts and second chances
I no longer pass judgment on any man nor woman. People are people, and I do not believe there is much more to be said on the matter. Twenty years ago I might have been of a different mind about that, but I was a different Cloris Waldrip back then. I might have gone on being that same Cloris Waldrip, the one I had been for seventy-two years, had I not fallen out of the sky in that little airplane on Sunday, August 31, 1986. It does amaze that a woman can reach the tail end of her life and find that she hardly knows herself at all.
When seventy-two-year-old Cloris Waldrip finds herself lost and alone in the unforgiving wilderness of the Montana mountains, with only a bible, a sturdy pair of boots, and a couple of candies to keep her alive, it seems her chances of ever getting home to Texas are slim.
Debra Lewis, a park ranger, who is drinking her way out of the aftermath of a messy divorce is the only one who believes the old lady may still be alive. Galvanized by her newfound mission to find her, Lewis leads a motley group of rescuers to follow the trail of clues that Cloris has left behind.
But as days stretch into weeks, and Cloris’s situation grows ever more precarious, help arrives from the unlikeliest of places, causing her to question all the certainties on which she has built her life.
Suspenseful, wry and gorgeously written Kingdomtide is the inspiring account of two unforgettable characters, whose heroism reminds us that survival is only the beginning.
‘Suspenseful from start to finish … First novels are often praised for an author’s potential, but Kingdomtide displays an exceptional talent fully realized’ Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
This was a real slow burner of a story for me! From the initial shock impact of the plane crash that leaves 72 year old Clovis lost and alone in the wilderness, this was a book that immerses you in the plight of her and the female ranger, Debra, in charge of trying to find her. And both their journeys, both phsyically and mentally, are fascinating insights into 2 women at different stages of their lives, alone with their thoughts and demons, and the misfit characters surrounding them, and just goes to show how quickly life can change and lead you on different paths, and ultimately teaches you more about yourself than you’ve ever learnt before. Clovis and her husband are in a small plane that crashes, and she’s faced with horrific sights as she makes sense of what has happened to them. But her years have taught her resilience so she sets off with very little to find a way to get back to civilisation. Debra Lewis is the Park Ranger who is heading up a small group of rescuers who have no idea where the plane went down, but have heard radio message repeating the name ‘Clovis’. The forests carry their own folklore too, there’s talk of ghosts roaming, and this really adds to the desperation felt by those doing the searching, and Clovis looking to be rescued.
Clovis finds herself being ‘helped’ by a masked man making her fires and finding food, and I really enjoyed the mystery of just who he is. The more time she spends alone, the more you think is she imagining things and the way she looks back over her life with her husband adds to the interest and helps keep her going. I was always amazed at her determination and fight to keep going, even if things did get to her at times. The more time she spent in the forests, the more she became comfortable with the routine and existence, leading her to question if she even wanted to get back to ‘normality’ as it all felt so far removed from the person she had become.
Debra is also another fascinating character – she chooses to spend time alone so having to deal with others is a little alien to her, and her prickly character is put to the test by some of those around her, who bring their own issues to the table.
This isn’t a straightforward kind of book – there are dark turns, and the story often wanders off into places I didn’t expect it too! But I think that just made it more of an intriguing prospect for me. With the rescue taking place over a longer period, it allows you to get to know more about the characters and their state of mind, and how being pushed to the edge can lead you to some extraordinary decisions. The cover is a bit of a stunner too!! Highly recommended.
My thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the advanced e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.