Delighted to be sharing my review today of book two in the Havenbury series – but it’s one of those books that can easily be read as a standalone if you missed out on book one The Homecoming .
There’s also a very special deal at the moment from the 28th February to the 7th March, so you can get yourself a copy for just 99p!!!! A deal not to be missed!!
About the book
It started with ‘happily ever after’… But just three years after Bella’s fairy-tale wedding to fun-loving Charlie Wellbeloved, while her best friend, Maddy, is expecting a baby, her own weight gain is purely from comfort eating. Only her little Labrador Dolly can boost her spirits as she gloomily surveys her failing marriage and fledgling interior design business.
Dovecot Farm is just a rainstorm away from ruin, but Charlie is hoping against hope his family vineyard will produce a vintage year, saving his business, his childhood home and – most of all – his marriage …
When handsome and glamorous Rufus appears in the tight-knit Havenbury community, he quickly charms Bella and makes himself indispensable to Charlie, but he is guarding a secret. But is he really too good to be true…
After obtaining a degree in music Rosie Howard pursued a career in public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and freelance journalism but realised her preference for making things up and switched to writing novels instead. She lives in a West Sussex village with her husband and two children in a cottage with roses around the door.
Having enjoyed The Homecoming so much, I’ve been eagerly awaiting book two in this series, and I haven’t been left disappointed!! It was lovely going back to see how the characters were getting on – and it has proved to be a tough time for both Bella and Charlie in both their personal and professional lives and we get to follow their story in this book.
This book does a wonderful job of letting you see characters not at their best – the fact that they can make bad decisions and facing the consequences of keeping things to themselves and not being honest with one another. There were many times I just wanted to bang their heads together!!
Bella is obviously struggling with her self confidence which causes her to over-eat, and Charlie is having similar issues but with drink. Their lives are clear for all to see that they’re drifting apart from one another but they don’t seem able to face up to their problems – and only do when it seems it might be too late to save themselves.
Alongside their struggles, we also get to follow a couple of other stories featuring characters around them – her friend Maddy (whose story was the focus for The Homecoming) with her pregnancy and also Charlie’s mum showing that honesty and being bad with money may have been a family trait as she’s left to deal with an upsetting encounter. The character of Rufus is also an interesting addition to the cast – his approach to life is just to throw money at problems and that seems to get him what he wants, but at what cost? He was rather brash and controlling for my liking but it’s always good to have someone to dislike and shout at in a book!
I really enjoyed going back to Havenbury – it’s not as light and humorous as book one but there are still many funny moments, and some sad moments too! – but it was a fascinating glimpse at marriage not being it’s all cracked up to be if you’re not open and honest with one another and how the characters deal – or don’t! – with the problems that life throws their way. Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns (unfortunately!) and Bella is a character who finds this out the hard way but she’s never one to give up and her determination to get her life back on track is one to be applauded!
Kihrin grew up on tales of long-lost princes and grand quests – despite being raised in a brothel, making money as a musician and street thief. One day he overreaches by targeting an absent noble’s mansion, hunting for jewels. There he witnesses a prince performing a terrifying dark-magic ritual. Kihrin flees but he’s marked by a demon and his life will never be the same again.
That night also leads to him being claimed as a lost son of that prince’s royal house. But far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions. He must also discover why his murderous father finds Kihrin more valuable alive than dead. Soon Kihrin attempts to escape his relative’s dangerous schemes, but finds himself in far deeper waters.
He becomes tangled in a plot to kill the Emperor, rob the Imperial Vaults, claim a god-slaying sword and free bound demons to wreak havoc across the land. Kihrin also discovers the old tales lied about many things: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love – and the hero always winning. But maybe Kihrin isn’t fated to save the empire. He’s destined to destroy it.
The Ruin of Kings is the first book in Jenn Lyons’s epic new series.
An epic fantasy read!! There’s magic, dragons, prophecies, feuding families, demons, secrets, lies – even zombies! You name it, you’ll find it here and I loved every single minute of it, even if my brain did get a little scrambled and overwhelmed at times by the sheer scale of it all. But to be fair, my brain feels like that with most fantasy books so this was no different!
I was a little apprehensive before starting this as I’d seen a few reviews saying how confused they’d been by the way the story was told – for me, this way worked really well and I loved the different perspectives of timelines in alternating chapters. The stories feature Kihrin -one from his point of view as he remembers it – and the other from a different starting point in the timeline leading up to the final chapters – and despite his bravado, you soon find out that Kihrin is a scared little lonely boy, unsure of his role in the world he finds himself part of. And that insecurity is only played on as he travels along his journey from petty thief to royal households. He’s been lied to by so many that he often fails to see who he should trust – and there’s many he shouldn’t trust who he comes into contact along the way and it was fun as a reader trying to work out who you should be rooting for. I was often proved very wrong in my judgement!
It’s often a complex web of a storyline – with flashbacks, characters pretending to be others, shifting universes to name but a few – but the strength of the main protaganists keep you on track and it just all added to the fun and darkness!
There are a number of footnotes that added extra background to various points and I loved the escapism of the whole story and am eagerly awaiting the next installment to see how the character of Kihrin adapts and changes with all he has learned over this adventure.
Good Afternoon! I hope you are well! I’m not! Got a blinding headache this afternoon that is putting me in a foul mood! I just hope the headache pills kick in soon because I’m missing out on reading time in the glorious sunshine we have today! Feeling more like Summer than Spring!
And despite the fact that I haven’t found much time this week to read, I have managed to finish another 6 books off the TBR mountain! But then I’ve added 2 new books from the library, 2 new books from Netgalley and 4 books in the post for review! At least I’m being good and still staying away from all bookshops of the real and online variety!
Beautiful collection of poetry dealing with some tough subjects
Starting with the evil Netgalley…
The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
Publication date – April 2019
Discovery. Desire. Deception. A wondrously imagined tale of two female botanists, separated by more than a century, in a race to discover a life-saving flower . . .
In Victorian England, headstrong adventuress Elizabeth takes up her late father’s quest for a rare, miraculous plant. She faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family.
In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed ‘Spring 1886’ and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons.
In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched nineteenth-century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips . . .
Where the Hornbeam Grows by Beth Lynch
Publication date – April 2019
What do you do when you find yourself living as a stranger? When Beth Lynch moved to Switzerland, she quickly realised that the sheer will to connect with people would not guarantee a happy relocation.
Out of place and lonely, Beth knows that she needs to get her hands dirty if she is to put down roots. And so she sets about making herself at home in the way she knows best – by tending a garden, growing things. The search for a garden takes her across the country, through meadows and on mountain paths where familiar garden plants run wild, to the rugged hills of the Swiss Jura. In this remote and unfamiliar place of glow worms and dormice and singing toads she learns to garden in a new way, taking her cue from the natural world. As she plants her paradise with hellebores and aquilegias, cornflowers and Japanese anemones, these cherished species forge green and deepening connections: to her new soil, to her old life in England, and to her deceased parents, whose Sussex garden continues to flourish in her heart.
WHERE THE HORNBEAM GROWS is a memoir about carrying a garden inwardly through loss, dislocation and relocation, about finding a sense of wellbeing in a green place of your own, and about the limits of paradise in a peopled world. It is a powerful exploration by a dazzling new literary voice of how, in nurturing a corner of the natural world, we ourselves are nurtured.
Becoming Mrs Lewis by Patti Calahan – proof from publisher
In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.
From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.
In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.
At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.
Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend – proof from publisher
In September 2016, Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a children’s social worker. She’s also struggling to come to terms with the recent drowning of a Sheena, a teenage girl she had deeply cared for. Engrossed in her book, when somebody sits opposite her at a table on the ferry, Lauren refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea across the table, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories. Lauren studies the hand on the table in front of her, the line of the scar drawing a map of the past in her mind. She was the one who created the scar, not long before her relationship with the love of her life ended almost thirty years ago. Lauren hasn’t seen Neil since she walked out of their shared life, unable to forgive either herself or him for a decision he strongly pressured her to make. She’s not ready to meet his eyes, not yet. From his scar to his wrist bone, following his arm upwards and across his shoulder to his collarbone, his chin and the lower part of his face; Lauren remembers incidents from their past and tries to work out what caused their life to go so horribly off-track. When she finally meets his eyes and they speak to each other for the first time, Lauren believes she has set her life on a new course. But her gain will result in losses for others. Is this really what she wants to happen?
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe – ahead of Blog Tour
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.
But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…
The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey from Readers First
1950: late summer season on Cape Cod. Michael, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer with Richie and his glamorous but troubled mother. Left to their own devices, the boys meet a couple living nearby – the artists Jo and Edward Hopper – and an unlikely friendship is forged.
She, volatile, passionate and often irrational, suffers bouts of obsessive sexual jealousy. He, withdrawn and unwell, depressed by his inability to work, becomes besotted by Richie’s frail and beautiful Aunt Katherine who has not long to live – an infatuation he shares with young Michael.
A novel of loneliness and regret, the legacy of World War II and the ever-changing concept of the American Dream.
As a pre-Christmas treat to myself, I signed up to the fabulous Prudence and the Crow Book Subscription service after seeing some of their fabulous posts on Instagram! Their mission is to share their love of vintage books amongst the bookish community, so put together a box each month to suit your tastes – you can choose from Classic Fiction, Sci-Fi, Classic Thriller, Children’s or Random – and then each month for £15 inc P&P, you will receive a fabulous vintage paperback along with a lovely handmade book bag, sweets and other treats – guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Now I forgot to share the unboxing last month (blogger fail!) so thought I’d start with my 2nd parcel from them. I’ve opted for the Sci-Fi package as I’m determined to increase my knowledge of classic Sci-Fi – and they often have the best/craziest covers!!
So here’s a look at what arrived through my letterbox – yep it all comes in a handy letterbox sized parcel! – this month!
All wrapped up in this fabulous Room With a View envelope!!
Who can resist sweets and tea?! Not me!
A fabulous pencil with the engraving ‘Only Connect’ E.M.Forster, library card stamped with No.2 for my 2nd parcel and fab stickers!
Gorgeous handmade fabric book bag containing this months book – THE BEST OF SCI-FI 5 by JUDITH MERRIL
The Handler by Damon Knight The Other Wife by Jack Finney No Fire Burns by Avram Davidson No, No, Not Rogov! by Cordwainer Smith The Shoreline at Sunset by Ray Bradbury The Dreamsman by Gordon R. Dickson Multum in Parvo by Jack Sharkey Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes “What Do You Mean…Human?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. Sierra Sam by Ralph Dighton A Death in the House by Clifford D. Simak Mariana by Fritz Leiber An Inquiry Concerning the Curvature of the Earth’s Surface and Divers Investigations of a Metaphysical Nature by Roger Price Day at the Beach by Carol Emshwiller Hot Argument by Randall Garret What the Left Hand was Doing by Darrel T. Langart The Sound Sweep by J.G. Ballard Plenitude by Will Worthington The Man Who Lost the Sea by Theodore Sturgeon Make a Prison by Lawrence Block What Now, Little Man? by Mark Clifton Me by Hilbert Schenck, Jr.
Another fabulous package that has made me smile and I look forward to dipping into the Sci Fi short stories very soon! Which genre would you go for if you subscribed?!
The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author, Susan Lewis.
It’s takes one minute to change everything…
Vivienne Shager has it all. A highflying job. A beautiful apartment. Friends whose lives are as perfect as her own. But on the afternoon of her 27th birthday, Vivi has a heart attack.
Now Vivi’s life shrinks back to how it begun, as she moves back to the small seaside town she grew up in. With her time running out, there is one thing she wants to know the truth about.
Some secrets are best left in the past…
Thirty years earlier, Shelley’s family home, Deerwood farm, bursts full of love and happiness. But one family member has hidden a secret for all these years. Until Vivi comes home demanding answers, and it takes just a moment to unravel the lie at their heart of their lives…
This was an engaging and thought provoking read as it looks at the question of organ donation, and how the wait can affect the patients and those around them, alongside a story of family drama and what happens when the truth comes out after years of feeling aggrieved at not knowing the full story.
Vivienne is a high flying lawyer with the whole world at her feet – until she collapses on her 27th birthday and her life then flips 180 and she is left to ponder what is really important to her, while trying to stay positive in the hope of receiving a heart transplant.
Alongside the story of Vivi, we also go back in time to the story of Jack and Shelley who lived on a farm and had the perfect family life – or so it seemed. Trouble with the neighbours sparks off a number of disputes and when tragedy strikes it rocks the family to their core.
The paths of the stories soon cross and it all becomes clearer as to why the stories are being told in the way that they are. I did feel at times it took a little too long to get to the point and often got too bogged down in trivial little things when there were bigger issues to be dealt with.
The last third of the book was where the point of the story got going and it is obvious how passionate the author feels about the importance of Organ Donor registration as this came through very clearly in the story and how it affected Vivi and her family. An enjoyable read
Exploring the wildlife, places, traditions, culture, and personalities associated with spring throughout Europe, and introducing readers to cultural, scientific, and historical research and his recollections of 30 years of continental travel, Laurence Rose paints a vivid picture of one of the world’s most significant and beautiful natural phenomena: spring.
Laurence begins his journey in the first week of February, arriving in southern Spain with the storks that herald the beginning of Europe’s spring on San Blas Day. Swallows, cranes and, later on, wild swans are his constant companions as he journeys his way north through Spain, France, and the UK, eventually crossing over to Sweden, Finland, and Norway before finally reaching the Arctic Circle four months later.
While on the road, Laurence follows live data from satellites tracking birds as well as other indicators of spring. Throughout his travels, he meets people living closely with nature. He also encounters new behaviours, such as cranes wintering in France, and explores how they link to climate change.
The further north he travels, the more unpredictable the events of spring become. At the end of his journey, Laurence reflects on what he has learned, as the long Arctic days stretch out into 24 hours of daylight.
All the I’s for this one – Informative, Interesting and Insightful! – and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time immersed in this book as the Author followed the journey of many birds from Africa to Europe, sharing his thoughts on what he sees and what he learns along the way, and really gives you a greater understanding of the amazing journey these birds endure each year as they work their way through Africa, Spain, France, UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
With the Author visiting each country along the way you get a real sense of the conditions they face through each leg and also how the landscapes have changed over the years as he has visited many of the countries over a number of years through his own interest and work he has been involved with for the RSPB. He gives a great background to the history of places he visits, along with damaging accounts of how enviromental disasters over the years have afffected different species and their habitats, and it is abundantly clear just how passionate he is about birds, wildlife and the planet in general.
I loved hearing mentions of the birds that I’m lucky to get to see when they pass through the UK, such as the Egrets and Geese in Leigh On Sea, and Blackcaps in my back garden and that really helped me connect more with this book. He also says how important that ringing and satellite tracking has been in helping over the years in plotting the birds and their journeys and how that never used to happen.
His journey allows him to meet numerous ‘birdy’ folk along the way and it’s inspiring to know that there are so many people out there who are doing all they can to help protect many species, especially in a world nowadays where a lot of young people spend less time outdoors and don’t seem able to connect to the world of nature as maybe we did in the past.
It’s written in a very relentless fashion, in diary form, sharing details from each stop along the way of birds he sees and other forms of wildlife too. I would have loved to see photos or more illustrations but am thankful for internet searches to illustrate for me certain bird species so I could get to enjoy some bird watching of my own, and it has definitely made me aware of different species that I can now hopefully look out for. A really enlightening read for all nature lovers.
Huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for BLOOD ORANGE by HARRIET TYCE. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!
Today I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the book and it’s one of those books that I found myself unable to put down once I’d started reading it!! Always a good sign with a book!!
ABOUT THE BOOK
21st February 2019
Published in hardback by Wildfire, £12.99
Ebook and Audiobook also available
An utterly addictive, spectacularly dark psychological thriller that explores the power of desire, jealousy and betrayal.
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems . . .
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything . . .
A disturbing, toxic and compelling novel that explores the power of fear and desire, jealousy and betrayal, love and hate, BLOOD ORANGE introduces a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.
Praise for Blood Orange
‘A Classy thriller with complex and compelling characters’ CLARE MACKINTOSH, author of I SEE YOU
‘Blood Orange is destined to be the debut that everyone is talking about in 2019. Dark, original and utterly compelling, I could not put it down. And what a twist at the end!’ LISA JEWELL, author of I FOUND YOU
‘A dark and disturbing domestic noir’
LOUISE JENSEN, author of THE SURROGATE
‘Blood Orange kept me frantically turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next. A superb, compulsive read!’
TESS GERRITSEN, author of RIZZOLI ISLES SERIES
‘Wonderful and deeply satisfying, devour-in-one-sitting stuff!’
‘A dark and disturbing domestic noir’
LOUISE JENSEN, author of THE SISTER
‘Combines sharp spare prose with a gloriously twisted plot – I read this in one heart-pounding, furiously angry sitting’ EMMA FLINT, author of LITTLE DEATHS
‘This brilliant debut from Harriet Tyce has it all’
RACHEL ABBOTT, 3 million copy eBook bestselling author of ONLY THE INNOCENT
‘The debut novel of the year. Harriet Tyce is now on my ‘must read’ list’
JEFF ABBOTT, New York Times bestselling author of THE SAM CAPRA SERIES
‘Gritty and compelling, Blood Orange drags you right into the hearts of the flawed characters and their stories from the get go. A book that will keep you up all night.’ KATE HAMER, author of THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT
Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University before doing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in London for nearly a decade. She is currently doing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
She lives in north London. Blood Orange is her debut novel
. Find Harriet on Twitter on @harriet_tyce
I found this to be a book that stays with you for days after you finish reading it! The main character – Alison – is one of those women who on paper has it all! Highly intelligent and working as a lawyer and married with a young daughter BUT still seemingly on a mission to self destruct as she lives life on the edge with a drinking problem and an addiction to affairs.
This story follows her as she negotiates her first big murder case, while trying to work her way through her own problems and dealing with a boss who is in full control of their affair and uses her but she just can’t seem to stay away from him.
The murder case is one that strikes a chord with her – a woman who is happily married and does charity work, finds herself accused of murdering her husband in cold blood. The more Alison looks into the case you sense there is more to this than meets the eye, it’s just whether Alison has enough focus to figure it out.
And when Alison starts receiving sinister text messages saying ‘they know what she’s doing’ it just ramps up the tension and intrigue into this clever story full of very flawed characters.
I really loved the pace and flow of this story – it’s a very dark story and some of the twists were so well crafted that I found myself gasping with each reveal! It showed just how destructive a person can be to themselves, be it through drink or sex, when they should really be enjoying their lives and being happy with what they have. At a time when she should be celebrating her success and rise in the legal world, she finds her life spiralling out of control and dealing with the consequences of her actions
An astonishing debut that was a stunningly shocking read, and Harriet is an author I will definitely be reading more of in the future!