#BookReview #20booksofsummer The Garden Of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Back on track with my 20 Books of Summer List! And Book 5 has now been read and reviewed!!  Can I keep this pace up?! Of course not, but I’m enjoying being so productive while I can!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

Published by Headline Review

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   £11.81

hive.co.uk  £12.99

whsmith  £11.89

Bert’s Books  £16.99 – sigend edition

MY REVIEW

A dramatic opening starts this book off with a bang and I was just totally captivated from the first page to the last with the events set over a dual timeline, relating to the painting of The Garden of Lost and Found, alongside the family history and drama of Nightingale House. The author has a wonderful way of capturing the day to day lives of people in various periods in history, mixed with the added mystery of secrets hidden behind closed doors that just makes you want to read more!!

Set in 1893 and 2014 this story follows the story of 2 families an their not so happy lives! In the 2014 timeline we follow Juliet who is married with children, but her husband seems to have form of playing away from home and she finally reaches breaking point and a legacy from the past leaves her with a way of breaking free from the marriage and starting over – albeit in a crumbling house that had sad memories for her family in the past. Her children aren’t so keen on the move and add to the stress she is under, but she is pretty determined to move on with her life and find the happiness she feels they all deserve.

In 1893 we follow the story of Liddy, who marries Ned (Juliet’s great grandfather), an artist, and find themselves moving to Nightingale House, a home she grew up in and despite the good times they shared together there, their time is soon tinged with sadness and pain. When Ned paints his most famous piece ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’ it should mean an end to all their worries, but just seems to add to the misery and he comes to despise his own work.

Juliet starts to learn more about her own family history when she starts working nearby and the more she uncovers the more devastating the revelations become.

I really loved both timelines in this one – I did find Juliet’s more powerful as she dealt with all that she learned about her past, while dealing with her own family problems – and I raced through the 440+ pages. The characters, the settings, the history, the escapism – perfect combinations for such an enjoyable book!

★★★★★

#BlogTour The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheSpaceBetweenTime @AccentPress @claidlawauthor

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for  THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME by CHARLIE LAIDLAW.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

 Emma Maria Rossini’s perfect life begins to splinter when her celebrity father becomes more distant, and her mother dies suspiciously during a lightning storm. This death has a massive effect on Emma, but after stumbling through university, she settles into work as a journalist in Edinburgh. Her past, however, cannot be escaped. Her mental health becomes unstable. But while recovering in a mental institution, Emma begins to write a memoir to help come to terms with the unravelling of her life. She finds ultimate solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe – which offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

 Published by ACCENT PRESS

Publication Date – 20th June 2019

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.49

Publisher Website  £8.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up children.

MY REVIEW

Wow!! I wasn’t quite expecting this book to be the emotional journey that it turned out to take me on, but it was a stunning story of what happens when a seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, showing the highs and lows of family life and that the life we all probably dream of isn’t as it seems.

Emma is the star of this book – she’s the daughter of a loving but neurotic mum, a father who becomes a hugely famous actor and this story charts her life as she deals with an unconventional lifestyle, and how she learns about the world around her and how tragic events shape her life and put on her a different path to what she imagined.

The fame that her father finds turns his head so he’s rarely around for his wife and daughter, and her mother doesn’t cope well with this.   He moves the family to a large mansion but they never find happiness there and their lives become defined by him and his actions.

You cannot help but become so attached to Emma as she’s confronted with such sadness in her life – she idolized her grandfather whose own life was met with ridicule for what he believed, but in him she finds a kindred spirit and often shares his beliefs and perspective on the world around them and how you should see yourself.    She sees the ‘perfect’ life that her Dad portrays of his family life in the media and knowing the truth it really messes her up, and this  outlook causes her to try and find a way to get his attention and to become her own person.

She finds some comfort when she becomes a writer and never plays on her famous name – she wants to write about things that matter and not the superficial celebrity world she has been witness to.  She changes her name to try and become ‘herself’ but the mental issues she’s always struggled with are never far away.  There is so much I think we can all relate to with this character  as she finds herself in different stages of her life trying to figure out who she really is, and how much outside influences have changed her perspective and clouded her judgement.

There was so much to love about this book and the characters portrayed – it’s heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measures and is definitely going to be one of my most treasured reads of 2019!

★★★★★

#BookReview A Secret Rose by Kirsty Ferry #publicationday

ABOUT THE BOOK

A fabulous new story from Kirsty Ferry set in Cornwall. Perfect summer reading! 


“Wherever you go, I will follow …” 
Merryn Burton is excited to travel down to Cornwall to start her first big job for the London art dealers she works for. But as soon as she arrives at Pencradoc, a beautiful old mansion, she realises this will be no ordinary commission. 

Not only is Pencradoc filled with fascinating, and possibly valuable artwork, it is also owned by the Penhaligon brothers – and Merryn’s instant connection with Kit Penhaligon could be another reason why her trip suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

But the longer Merryn stays at Pencradoc the more obvious it is that the house has a secret, and a long-forgotten Rose might just hold the key … 

Published by Choc Lit

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

Kobo

Apple Books

Google Play

Nook

MY REVIEW

An old mansion in Cornwall  full of secrets – a dual timeline – romance – family history… yes, yes, yes!!  Hopefully this is the start of another lovely series to be set in this idyllic setting.

 It’s fair to say I loved spending time in the company of Merryn Burton as she travels to Cornwall and the Pencradoc home recently inherited by the Penhaligon brothers and they are eager to have the art collection appraised by her, and the moment she arrives the deja-vu feelings start and she feels an incredible connection with both the house and Kit Penhaligon – it’s as if they already know one another.

I really do love the dual timelines that Kirsty seems to write with ease – the now timeline works so seamlessly with the jaunts back to the past and the characters of Alys , Jago and Zennor also have an intriguing and thrilling story to tell – can lessons be learnt from the past or will history be repeating itself once more?

There’s so much to be uncovered at Pencradoc that Merryn finds herself unable to leave and move on and it was so atmospheric and easy to follow that I didn’t want to leave either!  Loved the sibling rivalry, the ghosts, the drama and the love stories – it made for the perfect mix for a fabulous read!

★★★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

The good vibes for reading continues and I’ve now managed to read Book 4 for my #20booksofsummer challenge – and it’s another one from my actual original list! And one from the ‘large’ list too! And it wasn’t as scary or daunting as I feared it would be! I just hope they’re all going to be as good as this one!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice.

Published by Headline Publishing Group

480 pages

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £13.58

hive.co.uk  £15.85

whsmith  £14.00

MY REVIEW

An epic historical story that had me totally captivated and in awe of the family and the stories they had to tell of their time in Greece during and after World War II. I was totally unaware of the Greek history before, during and after the war and it was a powerful way to tell the story through the eyes of a family who were living through it.

At the centre of the story is Themis who was a normal woman but lived an extraordinary life. She is looking back on her life and relaying the years that took their toll on all of them. She came from a large Greek family and circumstances meant her grandmother brought her and her siblings up and she allowed them to be their own people but that tore them apart as they all had different political views, much like the country who were torn between support for the Germans or the Allies.

Her life saw her live through the devastation when famine ravaged her homeland, and how desperate times led to desperate measures. She witnessed such devastation close to home that it inpsired her to be very proactive in trying to do whatever she could to help, even to the point of joining the communist army to fight for her people.

She witnesses and is subjected to such horrific treatment when her unit is captured that your heart just goes out to all of them women who were imprisoned, but her faith never faltered and she sets out to right wrongs when she is eventually freed as her only wish is to do the right thing.

I loved how quickly I became caught up in the lives of these people due to the wonderful way that the story is told. Despite being a large book it never felt that way when reading and there was always something going on to keep you fully engaged and often horrified by what people were having to endure. The spirit of people, especially Themis, never fails to amaze and I was in awe of her and the story she had to tell her relatives. Wonderful book!

★★★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

Guess what?! I’ve just read a book for 20 Books of Summer that was on my original list!! It can be done!!  And book #3 was another ‘little’ stunner and one I’m very glad to have finally picked up and read!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, Kazu’s life is tied by a series of coincidences to Japan’s Imperial family and to one particular spot in Tokyo; the park near Ueno Station – the same place his unquiet spirit now haunts in death. It is here that Kazu’s life in Tokyo began, as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Olympics, and later where he ended his days, living in the park’s vast homeless ‘villages’, traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.

Akutagawa-award-winning author Yū Miri uses her outsider’s perspective as a Zainichi (Korean-Japanese) writer to craft a novel of utmost importance to this moment, a powerful rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive, deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people

published by Tilted Axis Press

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £9.99

hive.co.uk  £8.75

whsmith  £7.19

MY REVIEW

Beautifully tragic! I think that’s the best way I can sum up this stunning little book that tells the haunting story of Kazu as he looks back over his tough life, his family that he rarely saw because he was always away working to try and get money to live day to day, and how certain events affected their lives and shaped the way he lived.

Set around Ueno park he comments on the sights and sounds he witnesses, the way that the homeless around him are treated, often not seen as humans and just ‘vermin’ to be moved away anytime the Emperor of Japan and his family were in the vicinity. You’re also made well aware of the division between his lifestyle as a homeless person, and those of the visitors to the park with snippets of their snatched conversations and it really makes you sit up and take notice of just how unfair life can be.

He’d been working away from his family from a very young age, his children only saw him twice a year but that bond to his family never faltered and tragedy hit the family which was heartbreaking and the portrayal of grief that hangs over him was captured so eloquently.

This is a book that speaks of the struggles in life, the poverty, the grief, memories, death but in that despair it is the little things he remembers – those lasting moments that brought him some joy albeit fleetingly – and those are forever treasured in his memory.

It’s a beautifully descriptive book – the sights and sounds of Tokyo and surrounding areas are brought so vividly to life – and I think it’s going to be one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 8th June 2019 #bookblogger

Hello!! Another week whizzes by and I have good news! This week the books I finished outweighed the books coming in!!! Yay me!! I think I need to celebrate the fact with a  book buying spree……

Managed to finish 6 books this week (one of which was an audiobook) which was brilliant, and then just one newbie appeared on my Netgalley shelf when I had a little nose over there recently!  I also treated myself to 2 books, and was lucky to receive 2 books in the post for reviewing!

Here’s a look back…

BOOKS FINISHED

Flush by Virginia Woolf  – 4 stars

A charming story narrated by Flush the dog!

The Fortnight in September by R.C.Sherriff – 5 stars

A truly lovely read!

The Serpent’s Mark by S.W.Perry – 5 stars

Absorbing historical thriller – full review to follow on blog tour!

The Familiars by Stacey Halls – 3 stars (audiobook)

Enjoyable but just felt a little flat for me

Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor – 4 stars

Heartwarming with a darker side!

Confetti at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green – 5 stars

Another lovely installment – full review on blog tour coming soon!

BOOKHAUL

Starting over at Netgalley…

THE VIOLIN MAKER’S DAUGHTER by SHARON MAAS

published by Bookouture – out July 2019

When the Nazis march onto the cobbled streets of Colmar on November 1st 1940, Josef, a Jewish violin maker, gathers his wife and daughters closely to him and tells them everything will be alright. 

But one year later, three sharp knocks on the door at midnight turn his seventeen year old daughter Sarah’s world upside down. As the oldest child, Sarah must be the first to leave her family, to make her escape in a perilous journey across France via Paris to Poitiers. And she must hide who she is and take a new name for her own safety. For now, bilingual Sarah is no longer a French Jew but a German girl. 

As she bids farewell to her beloved father and family, Sarah has hope, against all odds, that she will see them again when the war is over. But, travelling through the mountains she finds herself in terrible danger and meets Ralf, a German deserter, who risks his own life to save her. 

Ralf and Sarah continue their journey together, keeping their identities secret at all cost. But when Ralf is captured, will Sarah pay the ultimate price for sharing who she really is? 

A gripping and heart-breaking account of love, bravery and sacrifice during the terror of war. A story of standing up for what you believe in; even if it’s going to break your heart. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Ragged Edge of Night. 

NEEDLEMOUSE by JANE O’CONNOR

copy for review ahead of Blog Tour

THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER BY KAYTE NUNN

treated myself to a copy from Bert’s Books

A buried secret…

Present day: Anna is focused on growing her new gardening business and renovating her late grandmother’s house. But when she discovers a box hidden in a wall cavity, containing water colours of exotic plants, an old diary and a handful of seeds, she finds herself thrust into a centuries-old mystery. One that will send her halfway across the world to Kew Gardens and then onto Cornwall in search of the truth.

A lady adventurer…

1886: Elizabeth Trebithick is determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish and continue his life’s work as an adventurer and plant-hunter. So when she embarks on a perilous journey to discover a rare and miraculous flower, she will discover that the ultimate betrayal can be found even across the seas…

Two women, separated by centuries. Can one mysterious flower bring them together?

THE NASEBY HORSES by DOMINIC BROWNLOW – copy for review

Published by Louise Walters Books – publication date December 2019

Seventeen-year-old Simon’s sister Charlotte is missing. The lonely Fenland village the family recently moved to from London is odd, silent, and mysterious. Simon is epileptic and his seizures are increasing in severity, but when he is told of the local curse of the Naseby Horses, he is convinced it has something to do with Charlotte’s disappearance. Despite resistance from the villagers, the police, and his own family, Simon is determined to uncover the truth, and save his sister. 

Under the oppressive Fenland skies and in the heat of a relentless June, Simon’s bond with Charlotte is fierce, all-consuming, and unbreakable; but can he find her? And does she even want to be found?

Drawing on philosophy, science, and the natural world, The Naseby Horses is a moving exploration of the bond between a brother and his sister; of love; and of the meaning of life itself.

THE WAY TO THE SEA by CAROLINE CRAMPTON

treated myself to this as I’ve lived along the Thames Estuary my whole life!

Caroline Crampton was born on the Thames Estuary to parents who had sailed there from South Africa in the early 1980s. Having grown up with seafaring legs and a desire to explore, Caroline is both a knowledgeable guide to the most hidden-away parts of this overlooked and unfashionable part of the country, and a persuasive advocate for its significance, both historically and culturally. As one of the key entrances and exits to England, the estuary has been pivotal to London’s economic fortunes and in defining its place in the world. It has also been the entry point for immigrants for generations, yet it has an ambivalent relationship with newcomers, and UKIP’s popularity in the area is on the rise.

 As Caroline navigates the waters of the estuary, she also seeks out its stories: empty warehouses and arsenals; the Thames barrier, which guards the safety of Londoners more precariously than we might; ship wrecks still inhabited by the ghosts of the drowned; vast Victorian pumping stations which continue to carry away the capital’s sewage; the river banks, layered with archaeological Anglo-Saxon treasures; literature inspired by its landscape; beacons used for centuries to guide boats through the dark and murky waterways of the estuary; the eerie Maunsell army forts – 24 metre high towers of concrete and steel which were built on concealed sandbanks at the far reaches of the estuary during the Second World War and designed to spot (and shoot) at incoming enemy planes; and the estuary’s wildlife and shifting tidal moods.

CURRENTLY READING

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

June pick for the GoodReads Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

#20booksofsummer

💮💮💮💮💮

Hoping the week ahead goes as successfully as this past week – got a bit of a break on the blog tour reading front so hoping to attack my own TBR pile and make the smallest of dents on that!!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReviews #PersephoneReadathon The Fortnight in September by R.C.Sherriff and Flush by Virginia Woolf

My time doing the Persephone Readathon seems to be a big success this time round! Have found myself finishing the 2 books I’d set out to read – who knows, I might even find time to fit one more in before the end!  My thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another fabulous readathon, and making me want to keep adding to my Persephone collection!

Here’s my thoughts on the 2 wonderful books that I’ve managed to read – so far! – for this readathon!

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF – 5 stars

I think the brilliance of this book is its’ simplicity! There are no gimmicks, there’s not a lot that really happens! Other than you get to follow a family in the build up, and then on, their yearly 2 week holiday to the seaside. 

They go to the same place every year and have perfected the art of the routine of preparing to leave and then following the ‘same proceedure as every year’ (my nod to The Dinner For One sketch!) and how the years have gone by that small changes are beginning to appear in what happens and what each person gets from their break.

The preparation is meticulous, especially by the father. It’s like a military operation with him organising everyone to sort the ‘to do list’ – who to leave pets with, what food to leave in the fridge, which neighbour to leave the keys with – and we get to see this build up from his point of view and then from his wife’s which is slightly different. She is a quiet woman who pretends she enjoys this time, but underneath she’s very anxious and seems to just go through the motions for the sake of her family.

The boarding house they go to has seen a number of changes, not for the best, over the years but they feel duty bound to go there as the owner has become like family to them – their sense of loyalty is overwhelming. 

With the children getting older, they all seem to have different thoughts on how their holiday should be spent – the father enjoys time alone walking, the eldest of the children are beginning to enjoy a little bit of freedom – and seeing the changes in their characters as they experience different things on the holiday allows them all to breathe a little bit more when they’re around one another.

It gives them all time to dwell on achievements and disappointments they’ve all faced in the past, and seeing how they can become different people entirely when they’re around others. It also makes them appreciate the simple pleasures, especially when they encounter their fathers’ boss whose aim in life seems to be showing off his wealth with no regard for others – his vulgarity makes the family appreciate all that their father does for them.

And just as they settle into their ‘holiday mode’ their fortnight is up – a feeling we’ve all gone through and I think that’s what makes this book so appealing! It captures the feelings and the escape that a holiday can bring for a family and all those little details that make or break a day in that fortnight and the family dynamic.

A truly lovely read!!

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF – 4 stars

An enchanting ‘dog biog’ that allows you to see the world from the perspective of Flush and all he encounters in his life, starting in the country and then late in the city as the pet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning who is often confined to her room with a mystery sickness and Flush keeps her company 24/7. 

His early life is one of freedom in the countryside, so when he starts his new life in the city it is completely alien to him – the noise, the smells, the lack of freedom and he spends many years in a life of rigid routine and you sense his frustration but he accepts the restrictions as he’s devoted to his owner.

As her health improves, he finds that she’s not entirely devoted to him as her attention is taken by the dashing Mr Browning, who Flush takes an instant dislike to. Flush soon finds himself living in very difficult circumstances and it makes Elizabeth realise how important he is to her.

I found this to be a touching portrait of a dog living different lives over the years in different places and loved the way he was portrayed – the things he noticed about what was going on at the time with many touches of humour that added so much to the story and made it feel very ‘human’. Thoroughly enjoyable!