#20BooksOfSummer2022 Books 3, 4 & 5! #BookReviews #MiniBookReviews

Had a little burst of 20 Books reading over the past couple of weekends so thought I’d do a quick review catch up in one post!

ANY HUMAN HEART by WILLIAM BOYD

This is book 3 of my 20 books of summer 2022.

A rather epic and captivating ‘diary’ of a man throughout the 20th century. The name dropping, the social events, moments in history all captured in this story of Logan Mountstuart and the way it is written makes it so easy to pick up and get addicted to! It feels like you’re reading the diary of a real person and you watch as the story takes you from his childhood to adulthood and this is a man who has a story to tell!!

his travels take him all over the world, in to the orbit of the great and the good, all while dealing with the failings of being a human with weaknesses. And I think that’s what makes this such an epic read – there are many good times but there are also those darker moments where life isn’t treating him so well and it makes for some heartbreaking reading at times! Absolutely brilliant!

★★★★★

FACES ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE by EMMANUELLE PAGANO

This is book 4 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

This was a nice little short story collection, linked by the characters being those on the edge of society. The forgotten, the quiet but their experiences of life made for some fascinating reading as it describes the little snapshots of humanity that make such a big impact on peoples’ lives.

From a tree in the neighbourhood impacting on a family, to lots of mentions of ‘blind spots’ which fit quite nicely with the ‘invisible’ feeling of some of the characters and how they felt. The stories are often short and snappy but with just enough detail to grab you quickly and pull you in to the essence of the character and situation.

My absolute favourite was the last story ‘Glitter’, which was all about a love of books and reading – a story I could really resonate with and would happily have read a whole book about that character on its’ own!!

★★★

ISABEL’S SKIN by PETER BENSON

This is book 5 of my 20 books of summer 2022.

Hello dark and twisted tale!! A gothic treat for you if you pick this one up and I’m so glad I have had the pleasure of picking this one up!

It all starts very quietly with the story of David, a solitary man who lives a very quiet life working as a book valuer, sticking to routines and shunning social situations But his quiet life in London is about to change with a trip to Somerset to value the collection of the late Lord Orpington. There he encounters a housekeeper, and the locals warn him of strange goings on in that house. He also meets the very strange Prof Hunt and the darkness level begins to ramp up!!

In the midst of his Somerset experiences, we get flashbacks to David’s youth, losing his mother at a young age, and the friend he made at University which explains a lot about the way he is now

Isabel is the young woman who becomes his focus and causes a big change in his outlook as he begins to take care of her, and dealing with the consequences of helping her escape her ‘prison’. This is one of those weird and wonderful stories that I lap up and the darkness was just perfect!! Not over the top, but dark enough to give you the chills!!

★★★★

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#GuestPost THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @ChrisPenhall

An absolute delight to be having company on the Blog today to help celebrate the publication day of the wonderful THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL!!  Links to buy are below so go grab your copy and get that Summer feeling on!!

Over to you Chris…..

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Release Day post: The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall

The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve is the story of Layla Garcia, the apparently serene, successful, well-organised owner of a yoga and mindfulness studio called – yes, you’ve guessed it – The House on the Hill. The story follows her through the summer months of one memorable year, and it transpires that under that calm exterior is a swan with legs paddling faster and faster like a wind-up toy as time goes on in order to just keep things under control and the business running smoothly.

But that proves harder than she thinks, especially when a reminder of a past she’d rather not deal with moves in next door in the form of writer, Luke Mackie. He accidentally brings a spot of unwelcome, but – I’m going to be honest here – much-needed chaos to her life. And just to make things even more difficult for herself Layla decides not to tell him that their paths have already crossed. And voila – she manages to create another problem. For her. Not for him. He has no idea they have any kind of common history at all.

All of this is set against the backdrop of Lagos in the western Algarve – a place I love very much, and where I go often to relax, replenish and have quite a lot of fun.

There is a hill behind the long, beautiful stretch of sand that is Meia Praia and I decided that it was a perfect place for Layla’s studios where she can hide out, driving down to the beach or into the city when she needed to, but able to return and gaze at it all from a distance whenever she wants.

She can open the door onto the balcony outside her bedroom and listen to the birdsong and distant lapping of the waves after the daily morning yoga session before she faces the world. To the west, the white-washed buildings of Lagos, to the east, the lagoon separating Meia Praia and Alvor and Portimao, where elegant yachts pause for a while before gliding gracefully out to sea.

For me, this encapsulates Lagos, with its vibrance on one hand, and its serenity on the other. I can experience both within a 20-minute walk! In the summer, the streets are filled with life and music, whether it’s of buskers on street corners or guitarists in bars and restaurants across the city. And yet you can get away from the crowds simply by sitting on the sand of Praia de Batata next to the fort at the end of the Avenida as the sun goes down, where all is quiet, or pad around the narrow, cobbled back streets in the shadows of the city walls, and to the accompaniment of your footsteps and the occasional hum of conversation.

All of that is Layla’s world. She just needs to be careful the House on the Hill doesn’t really turn into her Fortress on the Hill.

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About the Book:

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!

Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.

But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.

Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3ygCc26 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3xPS0HJ 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/38AH8oO 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3PqObAO

About the Author:

Chris is a freelance writer and radio producer. Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it. She is now working on her second. A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. Chris has two grown-up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside. Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Chris debut novel, The House That Alice Built won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition sponsored by Your Cat Magazine.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisPenhall 

Like Chris on Facebook: Chris Penhall Author 

Visit Chris’s blog here: https://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/

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