#BookReview A LADDER TO THE SKY by JOHN BOYNE

ABOUT THE BOOK

A psychological drama of cat and mouse, A Ladder to the Sky shows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul.

If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere. They don’t even have to be your own. Or so would-be writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career. A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely.

Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories. He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top. Stories will make him famous but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.

PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

whsmith

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

A brilliant read! One of those books where you hate the main character but just can’t stop reading to see how he would take advantage of people next and just how low he’d sink in his life, and his quest to be successful. And he sinks low!!

Maurice wants to be a novelist but has no original ideas of his own so when he meets a celebrated older author, Erich Ackerman, in a Berlin hotel he finds a way to get a story as Erich opens up to him, flattered that this handsome young man is so interested in him. And the story he has to tell is worthy of being in any book so Maurice uses his ‘charm’ to be his confidante – happy to toss him aside when his new book is released.

Each chapter then is the next stage in the life of Maurice – the people he meets, uses, loses – and with each revelation, your disgust for this character just grows! Nobody is seemingly safe in his path, and he seems to have no qualms about using others for his own benefit, even those apparently closest to him and a couple of the storylines really had me shocked!

I think we’ve all met characters like Maurice who are happy to take credit where it hasn’t been earned, just as long as they get what they want out of it and their moral compass seems to be missing, but they seem to have this annoying knack of always coming out smelling of roses! He’s brilliantly captured in this book and I found it to be a breathtaking read!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE 24 HOUR CAFE by LIBBY PAGE

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…

PUBLISHED BY ORION

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon 

whsmith

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

I found myself totally captivated by the goings on of the staff and customers of Stella’s, a 24 hour cafe by Liverpool Street Station, that becomes a ‘family’ to those who frequent it, however briefly! There’s a story behind everyone and it was so fascinating to be a ‘people watcher’ with each chapter, while the main story revolves around the 2 waitresses – Hannah and Mona. Best friends and flat mates, who both moved to London with different artistic dreams but their career paths haven’t quite gone to plan, but they still live in hope despite constant disappointment!

They work long shifts so there’s a lot of time for them to reflect on their pasts and to look forward to what they hope, as well as connect with the different characters that they see come into the cafe. There’s Dan who is a student and still coming to terms with the death of his mother, and finding it difficult to ask for help financially. A chance chat with an insomniac writer also in the cafe brings him some hope, and it’s the coming together of people who would never normally meet up that really made this book for me. Everyone is equal in the cafe and it gives people a time to sit, take time out from the world outside and to feel safe over a cuppa or breakfast! There’s also John, the Big Issue seller, a stressed out new mum, an older couple looking forward to a new life together, the city worker losing his job and more – all really different kinds of people who have an interesting story to tell.

It also brilliantly explores the role of female friendships. Mona and Hannah were brought together when sharing a house with other friends, and they instantly hit it off and got a flat together and it is fascinating to see how their friendship evolves over the years, especially with new career opportunities and boyfriends on the scene – how sometimes the things you find most stable and comforting can quickly change in the blink of an eye.

I adored The Lido, and feel just as warmly about The 24 Hour Cafe! The author has a brilliant way of inventing characters and making them so appealing to read about – their different approaches to life and all the problems thrown in their way – and it’s a book I highly recommend!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour A WINTER WEDDING AT THE LITTLE DUCK POND CAFE by ROSIE GREEN #BookReview @rararesources

A huge delight to be able to share my thoughts on another stunning installment of the Little Duck Pond Cafe series, as part of the Blog Tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Café

 With Zak and Ellie’s wedding day approaching, there’s high excitement in the pretty village of Sunnybrook, especially among the Little Duck Pond Café crew. Ellie is over the moon with her romantic surprise wedding gift from Zak, and Madison is promising to organise a hen party to remember. Everyone has high hopes for a magical Christmas Eve wedding celebration at gorgeous Brambleberry Manor. (Even Maisie-Moo has a sparkling new outfit.)

But sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go wrong. And with the journey to the altar turning out to be rockier than expected, it’s going to take nothing short of a Christmas miracle to ensure a happy ending . . 

Purchase Links

 UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Wedding-Little-Duck-Pond-ebook/dp/B07YQB5HSV/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Wedding-Little-Duck-Pond-ebook/dp/B07YQB5HSV/

Author Bio –

 Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love. Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.

 Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published in December 2019. Rosie is also writing a full-length, standalone book for Christmas 2019, entitled ‘Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage’, which will be out in November.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988

MY REVIEW

It is always a delight to read a book with a smile on your face, and that’s exactly what I found myself doing with this latest installment in the Duck Pond Cafe series, as we get to meet back up with ‘old friends’ – that’s what they feel like now to me as a reader! – and see the latest goings on in the wonderful community that comes together  through good and bad times.

And there’s good times on the way in the Winter Wedding, as the big day approaches for Ellie and Zak and of course things don’t run smoothly! There are last minute jitters and with Zak away a lot promoting his latest book, that means more time for Ellie to overthink things instead of just trying to enjoy herself!

There are many other characters who get featured in this book and their own trials and tribulations really add to the story. Hearing the stories from Jaz and Fen themselves adds an extra depth to this installment as each could have had their own story being the main feature. Jaz is struggling with her medical diagnosis and Fen is wondering just where her new relationship is going, despite being totally loved up and very happy!  

I loved every minute of this book! There’s a great warmth and humour written into each character and you can easily picture yourself turning up in the community and finding a friend or two to hang out with and I’m already counting down the days until the next installment – Lemon Drizzle Mondays is on the way soon!! Hurry up already!!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE BUS ON THURSDAY by SHIRLEY BARRETT

ABOUT THE BOOK

That’s when I literally had thoughts of becoming a nun, because I thought, Well, I’m never going to have sex again. If I become a nun, I would at least have somewhere to live.


It wasn’t just the bad break-up that caused Eleanor’s life to unravel. It was the cancer. And the demons that came with it.


Freshly single and thoroughly traumatised from the ordeals of breast cancer, Eleanor Mellett starts a new job as a teacher in a remote mountain hamlet. It’s certainly peaceful enough, almost too peaceful. But what’s become of the previous teacher, the saintly Miss Barker, who has disappeared abruptly under mysterious circumstances? And what’s with all those locks on the door? And what the hell is that bus doing idling outside her house late, late at night?


Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in Twin Peaks. Darkly funny, deeply unsettling and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a strange and wild ride for all fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, David Lynch and Stephen King.

PUBLISHED BY ALLEN & UNWIN

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK
hive.co.uk
whsmith

MY REVIEW

If you like your books full of dark humour and with a surreal, weird vibe, then I can’t recommend this highly enough! I fell in love with Eleanor right from the off as she faces life being single and being a cancer survivor and her cynical and funny approach to life was a joy to read, especially at the beginning where I found myself laughing at her thoughts and exploits on every page! Her world just turns very dark when she finds herself in a new town as a teacher, to replace Miss Barker who has disappeared without a trace!

Talbingo is the town and has a Twin Peaks kind of vibe! There’s very little going on and often very few people around. The missing teacher was just the sweetest according to those who worked with her and the children who idolized her and her stickers, so living up to that is something that is proving very difficult for Eleanor to deal with. But she has wine!! She seems to be able to cope with anything when she’s had a drink or three!

The more she finds out about some of the children and the old teacher then the darker the story becomes! The weird stuff just keeps getting weirder and this does detract from the story a little but still makes for very entertaining but unsettling reading! In Eleanor you have a character who isn’t in the most stable of places mentally or physically and is very prone to making rash decisions, and the stuff she finds herself involved with isn’t helping keeping her from looking back on things that happened to her or helping her move on emotionally! And the characters around her aren’t what you consider normal anyway!! Wherever you think the story might go, then you’d probably be wrong!! It was one of those books that is difficult to forget once you’ve finished as you can’t believe some of the things that went on within the pages of this book!!


★★★★

#BookReview HOUSEKEEPING by MARILYNNE ROBINSON

ABOUT THE BOOK

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

PUBLISHED BY  MACMILLAN

224 pages

MY REVIEW

This was the January choice for the GoodReads Book Club I am part of  – Readalongs With Karen

This was an unexpected little gem of a book! I knew nothing of it before I picked up a copy, and found myself totally swept along with the compelling and often heartbreaking story of 2 sisters who are dealing with a number of tragedies in their lives, but they have one another. Lucille and Ruth are devoted to one another as they’re pushed from pillar to post with various family members over the years, until they settle down with their Aunt Sylvie.

What becomes clear is that Sylvie is not the most stable of women to be caring for 2 young girls, but there’s something about her that Ruth and Lucille connect with, even if that means they live a very unstable life while under the care of Sylvie. Skipping school becomes the norm, and haphazard meals is what they come to expect.

As the girls grow, they start to become their own people, none more so than Lucille and she seems to crave ‘normality’ and finds herself drifting apart from her sister and aunt to live a more conventional life. So Ruth becomes more attached to her aunt and the two of them seem more like sisters at time.

This was beautifully written and a haunting read as you cared for these women as they’d been scarred by so much tragedy in their lives. It’s a subtle story that never goes OTT and one to be savoured.

★★★★

#BookReview THE DILEMMA by B.A.PARIS @HQstories @BAParisAuthor #TheDilemma

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision

PUBLISHED BY HQ

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.92

whsmith  £9.09

goldsboro books – signed first edition £12.99

MY REVIEW

Another stunner of a story from B.A.Paris and this one centres around the hidden cost of keeping a secret, so as not to spoil a big day – one of those that has you constantly thinking ‘what would you do in the same situation?’. And I still don’t know what I’d do, and if there’s a wrong or right way of dealing with such a traumatic event.

Livia is eagerly awaiting her 40th birthday party. When many want to forget their age and not make a big fuss, she’s been planning this for years. It’s a big deal to her! And her husband Adam knows this, that is why he’s faced with an awful decision when he hears horrific news. Dare he tell her straight away? Maybe if he waits, then things won’t be as bad as he first fears? He’s in a no win situation.

The story is told in alternating points of view – from the wife and the husband – and I found myself totally immersed in their lives and seeing the story unfold in this manner. The tension really builds up as you get caught up in the excitement Livia feels for her party, alongside the devastation that her husband feels as he waits for news on the horrific event that has caused him so much worry and anxiety. You live every moment with him and my heart kept breaking as he tried to put a brave face on things knowing he and Olivia’s world could be changing forever and there was nothing he could do about it.

There are darker secrets revealed along the way which just add to the complexities of family life and how tragedy can often reveal a side to people that you may not wish to confront. It explores the dynamics within a family and how relationships are pushed to the extremes.

This story briliantly portrays the toll a devastating secret takes on the person in the know and I loved every single second of it!!!

★★★★

My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview A GIFT IN DECEMBER by JENNY GLADWELL

ABOUT THE BOOK

Come back, one day. Come back to me, just once.

Jane thought she would be alone this Christmas, but will a luxury trip to Norway mend her broken heart? A heart-warming, feel-good festive treat to curl up with this winter.

Heartbroken by a failed romance, journalist Jane Brook is sent to Norway to cover the Queen of the Forest, the Christmas tree given to the people of London every winter. A week of luxury hotels and festive celebrations awaits, all in the company of dashing adventurer Philip Donnelly. Perhaps this is what Jane needs to mend her aching heart?

But, deep in the heart of the snowy forest, Jane makes a startling discovery: long-hidden wartime letters between a young soldier and a mysterious girl. The last letter ends with a passionate plea that was never answered.

Now, only Jane can give this story of love and courage a perfect ending – and in doing so, she might just find her own happy ever after. . .

An enchanting, cosy and sweepingly romantic read, for fans of One Day in December, Seven Days of Us and Christmas at the Crescent. 

PUBLISHED BY HODDER

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

I found this to be such a breeze to read! It was set in a magical setting and featured a character who you could connect with, as she dealt with a broken heart whilst trying to get on with her life and with the advice of her best friend ringing in her ears, she sets off for a trip she wouldn’t normally have gone on, to have different experiences. But as a journalist there’s always a story to be sniffed out and she stumbles across one that really touches her heart.

The trip is to Norway to witness the tree being cut down that is sent to Trafalgar Square every year, and she’s going with a variety of others including bloggers and minor celebs! Definitely not the normal company she keeps! But she throws herself in whole heartedly, and it’s not only the gorgeous snowy scenery that catches her eye!

It’s a story that flows really easily and I found myself eager to pick up the book each day to find out what Jane would find herself facing, and with the side story of the missing letters that the wonderful Thomas asks her to find, it just added more depth to just being a ‘press junket’. Really enjoyable

★★★★