#BookReview THE WAY OF THE HARE by MARIANNE TAYLOR #20BooksOfSummer20

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Brown Hare is an animal we all know but rather rarely see, even though it is quite common, active by day and lives in the wide open spaces of classic lowland countryside. It can make itself almost invisible, lying still in its form until it takes off suddenly, fleeing at astounding, breakneck pace. Those lucky enough to see a hare in a moment of stillness, may see in its staring golden eyes a strangeness and mystery that hints at its legendary status. It is a favourite subject of wildlife artists and sculptors in love with depicting its lithe and leggy form in full flight, and its March mating madness. A nationwide treasure-hunt for a golden hare, sparked by Kit Williams’ famous 1979 book Masquerade ended with more mystery than it began. It’s smaller cousin, the Mountain Hare, is an even greater mystery, living on bleak uplands where snowfall shuts down access in winter. It changes colour with the seasons and is hunted by the great Golden Eagle, but most of us hardly know it exists. The book explores the lives of both of these hares, in life and in story, and attempts to unravel the real animal from its image in our collective imagination, and examine just why it holds such fascination for us. The book includes accounts of first-hand encounters with wild hares, and research evidence from those who have worked with them and studied them. It is illustrated with line drawings and a section of colour photographs taken by the author. 

PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY

MY REVIEW

This is Book 8 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

I love all things ‘bunny’ so was genuinely fascinated and entertained by this book which is full of everything you ever needed to know, and more!, about the wonderful creature that is the hare!

It is packed full of info so sometimes does feel a little too wordy, but there is so much to be shared about hares that I think it needs to be this way! As well as the ways of the hare, the biology, the habitats and biology, it also features the role that hares play in literature and folklore and it really makes you think of just how relevant they are in the world around us.

There’s also some lovely colour photographs – I’d have been happier with more but then that’s just me! – and they really added to the whole hare experience of this book. It’s very immersive and a comprehensive study of a truly fascinating creature.

★★★★

#BookReview SUMMER AT SERENITY BAY by HELEN BRIDGETT #PublicationDay

ABOUT THE BOOK

What happens when you send a group of celebrities to a tiny seaside village?


Advertising executive Chloe Walsh thought she was visiting her friend Roisin to get away from it all, but little does she know her kooky friend has a master plan to breathe some life into her sleepy seaside village through a new wellness retreat – and she needs Chloe’s skills.


So starts a community effort to put the retreat, Serenity Bay, on the map. Everyone from Andy at the Surf Shack to Tony at the chocolate shop is involved – even Roisin’s Gran has a few ideas!


But Chloe strikes gold almost too soon, attracting the attention of a major production company. Now a colourful group of celebrities are preparing to descend on Serenity Bay to film a reality TV show. Is the village ready for the fun and scandal that are bound to follow?


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Serenity-Bay-addictively-funny-ebook/dp/B08B8TCP1D/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/summer-at-serenity-bay

Apple: https://books.apple.com/au/book/summer-at-serenity-bay/id1518789842?mt=11&app=itunes&at=11lNBs   

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-at-serenity-bay-helen-bridgett/1137184352?ean=2940163071692

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Helen_Bridgett_Summer_at_Serenity_Bay?id=nvftDwAAQBAJ

MY REVIEW

Sign me up for the Serenity Bay Wellness Retreat!! I adored my time with these characters and in such a wonderful setting – and hands off Andy the surfer! He’s mine!!

Chloe is the central character in this book and she’s looking for a new outlook on life.  She’s fled London after problems with her job and her ex, and she finds herself back with her bestie, Roisin, in Northumberland.  Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life that had been central to her working and personal life, so taking to a quieter way of life is a bit of a battle!

But she feels at home with Roisin and her nan and soon finds herself helping them out in setting up a Wellness retreat to try and revive the area they live in and earn some well needed money.  It gives Chloe that creative buzz again and she finds herself jumping right in with all aspects of it and even using her London contacts to find willing customers!

This was such a relaxing and inspiring read! The community, even despite a little resistance from some, were a great support throughout the process as they could see how it could improve their lives and incomes.  Things never run smoothly, even more so when a bunch of celebs show up to film a reality show! I would totally watch a series that featured wellness retreats like this!! Seeing how getting out in nature, being creative, living more simply can help your mind, body and soul is a lesson to us all!  But with celebrities comes ego’s and diva behaviour so things do take a dark turn with the police getting involved!

I loved the friendship between Chloe and Roisin and loved every single minute of my time in Serenity Bay! I hope we get to go back and visit again soon!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour BROKEN FLOWERS by KATE MCQUAILE #BookReview @QuercusBooks #BrokenFlowers @KateMcQuaile

A huge delight to be part of the Blog Tour this weekend for BROKEN FLOWERS by KATE MCQUAILE. My thanks to Katya for the copy of the book and putting everything together.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Your mother. The one person you trust. What if you’re wrong?

Widowed Nan is on her way to her beloved son’s wedding. She should be excited, but she is dreading her return to Paradise Place – a small area of Notting Hill that she hasn’t dared set foot on for decades. Nan had arrived there as a young girl in the late seventies, desperate for freedom and a career as an artist. But, drawn into a dark obsession that spun out of control, Nan was forced to flee.

And while the only thing seemingly connecting her son’s wedding and her old secret life is Paradise Place, Nan quickly gets the impression that someone is watching her every move . . . someone she thought was dead.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback £8.99

hive.co.uk  £8.15

Blackwell’s  £7.99

MY REVIEW

Dark.  Twisted.  Enthralling!!  The perfect read for making time disappear fast!!  The more you find yourself getting involved with these characters, the more you find yourself turning the pages to find out what happens next!! I loved it!

The character of Nan, is the centre of this book, and boy what a story she has to tell!! When she finds herself heading to London to see her estranged son ahead of his wedding,  the more you find yourself wondering what has kept her away from London for so long, and why her relationship with her son is so strained…. nothing is going to prepare you for the truth!!

The story then flashes back to the 1970’s and Nan arrives in London as  a young artist.  On her own for the first time she finds herself drawn into a world of dark obsessive love – a far cry from her ‘normal’ life back home in Yorkshire.  When things spiral out of control she is left suffering mentally and her life is never the same again despite her best efforts to live life the normal way.

Returning to London she finds herself back at places she tried very hard to put out of her mind, and those flashes from the past begin to take over her every moment again.  Is her mind playing tricks on her, or is the past she thought she’d left behind finally catching up with her?

I loved the pace of this story! It felt really unsettling at  times when things were happening to Nan and the shocking events of the past were brilliantly played out to keep the tension up!  The fact that she hid so much of her past from those around her really seemed to mess her up and cloud her judgement and thought process in knowing how to move on.  Sticking her head in the sand wasn’t going to work for the situation she found herself in!  And now it’s come back to bite her big time!!

I really enjoyed the twists and turns and can’t wait to read more from this author in the future!  

★★★★

#BookReview Happy Days of the Grump by Tuomas Kyro #20BooksOfSummer20

ABOUT THE BOOK

Everybody recognises the Grump, everybody knows a grump. And maybe there’s a little grump in every one of us . . .
The Grump, at eighty years old, is more focused on death than life; building his own coffin and keen to write his will in ink – who can trust technology, after all? – he knows that everything was much better in the old days.
But when the Grump finds himself in hospital in a semi-conscious state after falling down his basement steps, his life passes before his eyes. Thinking of the people closest to him and reflecting on the changes society has brought about, he realises he must come to terms with the cards life has dealt him.
With wry humour and sharp observations on family and relationships, The Happy Days of the Grump is a black comedy, sure to bring a smile to the face of even the grumpiest among us. 


PUBLISHED BY MANILLA

MY REVIEW

This is Book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.


This was a little more serious than I was expecting, and I found myself feeling quite sorry for the Grump as he faced his demise! His mind is sharp as a tack, but his body is failing him and to be stuck in that quandry of wanting to carry on as normal, but unable too makes him question the world around him. I also found myself feeling a little sad for him that his family seemingly couldn’t wait to get him into a care home instead of talking through other options with him. He seemed to be the one coming up with the workable options on that front!


The Grump is very set in his ways, so when life starts to change for him he isn’t sure how to accept it other than to find fault with all that the modern world has to offer – hard to disagree with him about some of his well made points!!


It made for an engaging read, even if it didn’t really go anywhere and felt a bit flat at times. It was fascinating to see the world through his eyes and I admired his spirit of never wanting to give up, even if those around him seemed to be giving up on him living a somewhat independant life.


                                              ★★★★

#BookReview Lily’s Secret by Kirsty Ferry #PublicationDay #LilysSecret

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘There’s nothing logical about Pencradoc!’

Aspiring actress Cordelia Beaumont is fed up of spending summer in the city. So, when the opportunity presents itself, she jumps straight on a train to pay a visit to Pencradoc – the beautiful Cornish estate where her friend Merryn works. 


But far from the relaxing break Cordy imagined, she soon finds herself immersed in the glamorous yet mysterious world of Victorian theatre sensation, Lily Valentine. Lily was once a guest at Pencradoc and, with the help of visiting artist Matt Harker, Cordy comes to discover that the actress left far more than memories at the old house. She also left a scandalous secret …


PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lilys-Secret-secrets-romance-Perfect-ebook/dp/B089T2R6VK/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=Lily%27s+Secret

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/lilys-secret/id1517403239?mt=11&app=itunes&at=11lNBs 

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lilys-secret-kirsty-ferry/1137150436?ean=2940162924333

MY REVIEW

This is the 2nd book in the Cornish Secrets series – A Secret Rose being the 1st – and the ghostly goings on are back in full force and I loved it!  Any excuse to revisit Pencradoc is fine by me, and it was glorious to be seduced by the history of the house once more and the intriguing characters who have lived out their lives in the house and grounds.

This story is seen through the eyes of Cordelia, an actress who finds herself seeking time out at Pencradoc with her friend Merryn, to escape an ex and issues with her flat! She’s looking foward to a different pace of life for a while and finds herself falling for the charms of the house, the history of past inhabitants and a friend of the owners!!

As the story flits from the now back to the past, we’re introduced to Lily Valentine who was a star from the Victorian era, and ends up living at Pencradoc with her new husband.  I found both timelines to be captivating  but especially the story of Lily as she is facing an uncertain future as an actress, and fearing the past may be going to catch up with her, no matter how hard she tries to distance herself from it.  And we get to see the world through the eyes of little Elsie who is a whirlwind of a personality in the body of an 8 year old!!

I always love these dual timeline stories as there is so much to explore with these characters,  it’s fun and exhilarating to see their worlds combine throughout this story.  There are a few scary moments to get the heart thumping but you’re mostly left feeling with a warm fuzzy feeling and a real bond with these characters.  I’m just hoping there’ll be another book in this series very soon!!

★★★★★

#GuestPost LILY’S SECRET by KIRSTY FERRY #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @kirsty_ferry

Hello!  Time for a takeover on my Blog today, a special treat for Publication Day of LILY’S SECRET!  And the lovely Kirsty Ferry is here to share a bit of background to the book – it’s a book you don’t want to miss out on as I have already had the pleasure of reading it and loved it!!

So, over to you Kirsty……

Release Day Post: Lily’s Secret by Kirsty Ferry 

I’m very happy that Lily’s Secret has now been published and how it’s added beautifully to my new Cornish Secrets series for Choc Lit. It’s a sequel to A Secret Rose and is set at Pencradoc, the same gothic old mansion on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, that has now made a name for itself as an Arts Centre.

It’s lovely creating these sort of places, because I can pick and choose how they look and what facilities they have! I tend to take parts of places I’ve visited and shamelessly use them – this time we have the historical thread incorporating a ‘Pageant’ that the children of the family put on, and I’ve borrowed bits from the likes of Lyme Park and Mount Grace Priory and Abbot’s Hall, which is part of the Museum of East Anglian Life in Suffolk.

All these places had, when we visited, images, photographs and even black and white home movies of children taking part in pageants and plays, and I thought it was the ideal backdrop to frame Victorian actress Lily Valentine and her scandalous secret – how something so innocent and fun can reveal something so shocking!

I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I loved creating Lily, who I based on famous, scandalous actresses of the day and discovering more about her contemporary counterpart, Cordelia, who you may remember was a minor character in A Secret Rose. This time, Cordelia is feeling rather disillusioned with her acting career and after her flat floods, she decides to come down to see her friend Merryn at Pencradoc – and thus the two actress’s lives collide …

Unlike Hartsford Hall in my Hartsford Mysteries series, Pencradoc is haunted in a very different way. With Hartsford, the ghosts tend to drift around all the time, but with Pencradoc, they only appear to people they have a connection with – and it’s usually to help tell someone their story and reveal a secret that’s hidden in the very fabric of the old buildings. I do hope you enjoy reading Lily’s Secret as much as I enjoyed creating it, and fall in love with little Lady Elsie who stomped right up to my keyboard and demanded some attention whilst I was writing. I had to reign her in a bit and promise Elsie her very own book when she was a big, grown up girl – but for now, this is Lily’s story and I do hope you like it.

About the book:

‘There’s nothing logical about Pencradoc!’ Aspiring actress Cordelia Beaumont is fed up of spending summer in the city. So, when the opportunity presents itself, she jumps straight on a train to pay a visit to Pencradoc – the beautiful Cornish estate where her friend Merryn works. But far from the relaxing break Cordy imagined, she soon finds herself immersed in the glamorous yet mysterious world of Victorian theatre sensation, Lily Valentine. Lily was once a guest at Pencradoc and, with the help of visiting artist Matt Harker, Cordy comes to discover that the actress left far more than memories at the old house. She also left a scandalous secret …

Buy from: 

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Nook

About the author:

Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short

stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

Find out more about Kirsty: 

Twitter

Facebook

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 4th July 2020

Hello! Happy Saturday! Another month is with us! What fun will it bring I wonder?! As long as it brings me more books, then I’ll be happy!

My reading pace has slowed down – I’m blaming the windy, cooler weather! – so just managed to finish 3 books this week! Better than nothing I guess! There may have also been 3 new additions to my bookshelves but I have stayed away from Netgalley again!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

A Strange Country by Muriel Barbery – 4 stars

Old & Ugly by C L Moir – 5 stars

Escape to the Art Cafe by Sue McDonagh

BOOK HAUL

WATERMARKS: LIFE, DEATH AND SWIMMING by LENKA JANIUREK

Lenka Janiurek’s story really begins after the death of her mother when she was a small child, and speaks of the men who came to define her life; she is the daughter of a Polish immigrant father, the sister of five brothers, the wife of one husband, the lover of several men, and the mother of two more. Her memoir speaks of identity and trying to find your place in a country that isn’t your own, within a family that doesn’t feel like your own. This remarkable book traces Lenka’s journey from the UK to Eastern Europe, from the 1960s to the present day. However, across the years, she remains haunted by the rage, addiction and despair of the men she is closest to. Alongside these challenges, she develops a powerful connection with the natural world, particularly water, which provides her with strength and joy.

THE OFFING by BENJAMIN MYERS – signed copy from Blackwell’s

After all, there are only a few things truly worth fighting for: freedom, of course, and all that it brings with it. Poetry, perhaps, and a good glass of wine. A nice meal. Nature. Love, if you’re lucky.

One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.

Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.

From the Walter Scott Prize-winning author of The Gallows Pole comes a powerful new novel about an unlikely friendship between a young man and an older woman, set in the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay in the aftermath of the Second World War.

THE BELL IN THE LAKE by LARS MYTTING

Norway, 1880. Young, inquisitive Astrid is unlike the other girls in the secluded village at the end of the valley. She dreams of a life that consists of more than marrying, having children, and eventually dying from hard work in the fields. And then the young pastor Kai Schweigaard comes into her life.

Kai Schweigaard has taken over the small parish of Butangen, with its 700-year-old stave church. The old church is one of the few remaining examples of early Christianisation, with effigies of pagan deities carved into the wooden walls. And the bells – two sister bells forged in the 16th century, in memory of the Siamese twins Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne – are said to have supernatural powers. Legend has it that they ring of their own accord when danger is imminent.

But the pastor wants to tear it down, to replace it with a more modern, larger church. He has already contacted the Kunstakademie in Dresden, which is sending its talented architecture student Gerhard Schönauer to oversee the removal of the church and its reconstruction in the German city. For Astrid this is a provocation too far.

But Astrid falls in love with Gerhard. He is so different from the young men in Butangen: modern, cosmopolitan, elegant, he even smells different. And she must make a choice: for her homeland and the pastor, or for an uncertain future in Germany. Then the bells begin to ring . . . 

CURRENTLY READING

LILY’S SECRET by KIRSTY FERRY

BROKEN FLOWERS by KATE MCQUAILE

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My July TBR #bookblogger

Christmas gets ever nearer!!!!! 🤣  Let’s hope the world is a happier, freer place by then anyway!!

But it’s July, so that means another set of books need to be sorted out for my reading pleasure!  And the month ahead for me brings a few more Blog Tours, yet more Netgalley releases and a couple of new releases I’m eager to get to!! Let’s hope I can squeeze them all in!!

CLOUDS OF LOVE AND WAR by RACHEL BILLINGTON – Blog Tour

publication date – 12th July 2020

Occasionally panoramic, more often intimate, in Clouds of Love and War author Rachel Billington balances a detailed and highly researched picture of the life of a Second World War Spitfire pilot with the travails and ambitions of a young woman too often on her own. The result is both a gripping story of war and a sensitive story of love, a love that struggles to survive. Eddie and Eva meet on the eve of the Second World War. Eddie only wants to be a flyer, to find escape in the clouds from his own complicated family. However, the Battle of Britain makes a pilot’s life a dangerous way to flee reality. Eva has her own passionate longing: to become a painter. When Eva’s Jewish mother disappears to Germany, she is left alone with her elderly father. Both Eddie and Eva come of age at a time that teaches them that happiness is always fleeting, but there are things worth living or dying for. Through the connecting stories of these young people and their wider families, and against a background of southern county airfields, London, Oxford, Dorset and France, Rachel Billington brings the world of war time England, now eighty years in the past, back to life.

MISS GRAHAM’S COLD WAR COOKBOOK by CELIA REES – Blog Tour

A striking historical novel about an ordinary young British woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany that will appeal to fans of The Huntress and Transcription.

World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Somewhat aimless, bored with her job as a provincial schoolteacher, and unwilling to live with her stuffy genteel parents any longer, twentysomething Edith Graham applies for a job with the Commission—but is instead recruited by the OSS. To them, Edith is perfect spy material…single, ordinary-looking, with a college degree in German. And there’s another thing—the OSS knows that Edith’s brother went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals, Count Kurt von Stabenow, who Edith remembers all too well from before the war.

Intrigued by the challenge, Edith heads to Germany armed with a convincing cover story: she’s an unassuming schoolteacher sent to help resurrect German primary schools. To send information back to her OSS handlers in London, Edith has crafted the perfect alter ego, cookbook author Stella Snelling, who writes a popular magazine cookery column that embeds crucial intelligence within the recipes she collects. But occupied Germany is awash with other spies, collaborators, and opportunists, and as she’s pulled into their world, Edith soon discovers that no one is what they seem to be. The closer she gets to uncovering von Stabenow’s whereabouts—and the network of German civilians who still support him—the greater the danger. 

With a unique, compelling premise, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is a beautifully crafted and gripping novel about daring, betrayal, and female friendship.

LILY’S SECRET by KIRSTY FERRY

publication date – 7th July

‘There’s nothing logical about Pencradoc!’
Aspiring actress Cordelia Beaumont is fed up of spending summer in the city. So, when the opportunity presents itself, she jumps straight on a train to pay a visit to Pencradoc – the beautiful Cornish estate where her friend Merryn works. 
But far from the relaxing break Cordy imagined, she soon finds herself immersed in the glamorous yet mysterious world of Victorian theatre sensation, Lily Valentine. Lily was once a guest at Pencradoc and, with the help of visiting artist Matt Harker, Cordy comes to discover that the actress left far more than memories at the old house. She also left a scandalous secret … 

THE SHADOW FRIEND by ALEX NORTH

publication date – 9th July 2020

If it had happened to you, you would have run away too.

Twenty-five years ago, Paul’s friend Charlie Crabtree brutally killed their classmate – and then vanished without a trace.

Paul’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened. He’s never gone back home.

Until his elderly mother has a fall. It’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. His mother claims there’s someone in the house. Paul realises someone is following him. And, in a town many miles away, a copycat killer has struck.

Which makes him wonder – what really happened to Charlie the day of the murder?

And can anyone stop it happening again?

FEATHERTIDE by BETH CARTWRIGHT

publication date – 30th July 2020

A girl.

A secret.

A life-changing journey.


Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.

The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.

And Marea will never forget what she learns there

Feathertide is an enchanting, magical novel perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

IN THE TIME OF FOXES by JO LENNAN

publication date – 23rd July 2020

‘A fox could be a shape-shifter, a spirit being. It could appear in human form if this suited its purposes; it could come and go as it pleased, play tricks, lead men astray.’

A film director in Hackney with a fox problem in her garden; an escapee from a cult in Japan; a Sydney café-owner rekindling an old flame; an English tutor who gets too close to an oligarch; a journalist on Mars, face-to-face with his fate.

The world has taught these men and women to live off their wits. They know how to play smart, but what happens when they need to be wise?

In the Time of Foxes is both compellingly readable and deeply insightful about the times in which we live, each narrative a compressed novel. With an exhilarating span of people and places, woven together by the most mercurial of animals, it shows the short story collection at its most entertaining and rewarding, and introduces Jo Lennan as a captivating new storyteller.

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Just a few to keep me going! And I’m sure there’ll be more to catch my eye along the way! What are you hoping to read this month?!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview OLD AND UGLY by C L MOIR

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the 1973, teenagers Ange and Elizabeth are persuaded to enter the Miss Sladport-on-Sea Beauty Pageant by local entrepreneur, Spencer. When Ange is crowned the most beautiful woman in Sladport, Spencer promises her a life of fame and fortune – which he delivers. Within months, Ange is crowned The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.


Forty years later, Ange is unexpectedly invited to a reunion of old friends: Elizabeth – now married to Spencer – and the three school friends who stormed the pageant, throwing flour bombs and insults in protest at its objectification of women.


Old and Ugly is the story of that re-union – and the story of Ange’s life.


​Hilarious and laughable, conceited and fearful,  feisty  and (some might say) a fool for the admiration of men, Ange must finally confront the truth about her fantastical life of glamour and good fortune to be freed from its secrets – and freed from the man who made her, then broke her. 
Irreverent and moving, disturbing and joyful, you’ve probably never read anything quite like it… 


PUBLISHED BY BEHIND THE HAT PRESS


PURCHASE LINK
Publisher Website


MY REVIEW


This was an unexpected pleasure to read! I knew very little of the book or author before picking this up but was intrigued by the title and striking simplicity of the cover!  There is nothing simple about the characters in this book!!  


This is a 40 year reunion with a difference. You can sense a pretty dark undercurrent from the off, especially with Ange who isn’t keen on going to the reunion when she is contacted by Elizabeth. But Elizabeth is very good at getting her own way and the stage is set for a reunion at the home of Elizabeth and Spencer.


What follows is a mix of looking back at how life has changed for these women – from the carefree days of their youth when Ange wins a beauty pageant, to the darker, more traumatic times that follow.  The reunion allows them all a chance to confront the past – the shocking goings on that have shaped the women they became.  They can settle scores, seek revenge – but will it make them feel any better?


What I appreciated most about these women was their honesty with one another, in a roundabout kind of way! While they were quick to make judgements and comments on appearances and lifestyle choices, they often found it more difficult to be more honest about the reality of life.  The traumatic events that they kept hidden, mostly from themselves, none more so than in the case of Ange who was eating her feelings and living in a kind of bubble world where everything turned out perfectly for her. ….. it didn’t!


She finds confidence though in an unexpected ally – Henry, the son of Elizabeth and Spencer – and in him, she allows herself to speak a little more openly about past experiences and make sense of it all.


The more time the women spend together, the more they find they have in common than they think – all hiding parts of themselves so they can keep up appearances.  It’s touching, dark, traumatic, funny – a real emotional rollercoaster of a read! You become quite attached to these women so find yourself willing them to bury those ghosts that have haunted them for way too long.


★★★★★



My thanks to Behind The Hat Press for sending me a copy to read in return for an honest review.

#BookReview ESCAPE TO THE ART CAFE by SUE MCDONAGH #publicationday #EscapeToTheArtCafe

ABOUT THE BOOK

Heartbreak and cake at the Art Café …


It was meant to be the perfect romantic holiday. But then Flora Bexton’s boyfriend does the unthinkable, and she responds in the only logical way: she steals his motorbike and escapes for a holiday by herself on the Welsh coast.


Far from the lonely trip she imagined, Flora soon finds comfort at the friendly local Art Café where the legendary hot chocolate and cake help to ease her troubled mind. And when Aussie-Welsh lifeguard Jake Foley steps in just when Flora needs help the most, she realises that her ‘holiday’ feels more like home with every passing day …


PUBLISHED BY 
https://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/escape-to-the-art-cafe/

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Art-Cafe-uplifting-page-turner-ebook/dp/B0872BX3WR/r

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/escape-to-the-art-cafe

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/escape-to-the-art-cafe/id1507978185?mt=11&app=itunes&at=11lNBs 

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escape-to-the-art-cafe-sue-mcdonagh/1136855018?ean=2940162660330

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sue_McDonagh_Escape_to_the_Art_Cafe?id=WZfqDwAAQBAJ

MY REVIEW

Book 3 in the Art Cafe series introduces us to 2 totally new characters and wow!! What an introduction!! I love this series, and it delivers once more with a wonderful setting, and fabulous storylines to escape into – and a new swoonsome hunk to drool over in the shape of Jake!! Where do I get to meet blokes like these?! I need to move myself to Wales I think!

This book centres around Flora who finds herself in Wales at her parents holiday home and she’s got plenty to escape from after the ultimate betrayal. But she’s not so sweet and innocent herself as she’s stolen her boyfriends’ motorbike to escape on – that’ll teach him!! But it’s not the 30th birthday to remember as she finds herself alone and in trouble in the water – Jake to the rescue! He’s recently returned from Australia where he was a lifeguard and is staying with his grandparents in their hotel, which is in need of a bit of TLC.

The moment they meet there are sparks – who can blame Flora! – but she’s very wary, and you get the impression Jake is hiding some sadness too. A pair well matched with unresolved issues from their past plaguing their present!

As always, the community surrounding the Art Cafe are welcoming to the newbies amongst them and Flora finds herself settling in really well and even thinking of starting up her own hair dressing business. But disaster is never far away and once again the power of community is brought to the fore after a devastating storm and it helps cement certain feelings and brings unknown truths out which could scupper progress made.

What I love about this series is just how relatable the characters are. How they have to face up to dilemmas in their lives and really get to know themselves when their backs are up against the wall. This can easily be read as a stand alone but you’ll be wanting to go back to visit the others in the series once you read this! Wonderful!!

★★★★★