BookReview WINTER FLOWERS by ANGELIQUE VILLENEUVE

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.

Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.

For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.

PUBLISHED BY PEIRENE PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

PUBLISHER WEBSITE

MY REVIEW

 Early contender for one of my books of 2023!! That’s the effect this book has had on me! It’s quiet but extremely powerful in the subject matter, and the exploration of how the impact of war continues long after the war has ended.
It looks at a family where the husband has been away fighting, and the wife has been left back home to raise their child not knowing what is happening on the front line, and trying her best to deal with the consequences. When her husband returns home, she’s ecstatic to have him back but instantly sees he’s not the same man that left and coping with that change in personality is tough for them all.

You sense the husband, Touissant, has been through the extremes and finds it very difficult to go back to ‘normal’ life. But he won’t share with his wife what he’s been through – whether to protect them or himself – and it is just brilliantly written and explored through their interactions and the reactions of others the full impact.

The wife, Jeanne, has done all she can over the time he’s been away to protect her child, to keep normality in their life and she longed for, and dreaded, his return. Must be so harrowing to watch someone you love almost shutting themselves off from you and your life in a form of self preservation. The emotional toll on the whole family is harrowing and as you discover more about his life and experiences during the war, your heart just breaks – for them all.

A stunning book which is short in length but will stay long in the mind.

★★★★★

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BookReview BAD BLOOD by SADIE RYAN

ABOUT THE BOOK

Does a dating App hold the key to the recent mysterious disappearances of several women from a leafy suburb.

Women are vanishing in the town of Applehurst. The police have one lead.

All the women met with a man on Tinder.

When the body of one of the missing women is found, The Police face a race against time to locate the remaining women before they come to further harm.

Can DI Vincent Sullivan and DS Josephine Jenkins unravel the mystery before the killer kills again?

Bad Blood is the new crime thriller from the bestselling author of Guilty

PUBLISHED BY SPELLBOUND

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is Book 2 in the DI Vincent series, but my first and definitely won’t be my last! The shocking opening had me hooked straight away, and the author has done a great job at exploring the world of online dating and delving into the darker side of human behaviour.

When women start going missing after going on Tinder dates, the police, and families, are left to wonder just what is going on. This starts off a game of action and suspense in every chapter as the story cleverly switches from the normality of daily life goings on giving you a glimpse behind various characters, to the POV from the main investigators – DI Vincent and DS Josephine Jenkins. I loved how these 2 characters worked so well with one another, from their banter to their way of going around trying to find out what is really going on.

As more bodies keep appearing the twists and turns ramp up, and I found myself getting suspicious about everyone at some points as you’re left thinking one way one minute, and another the next!! It really is cleverly written and it just keeps you guessing throughout.

There are many different threads to the story which help keep the interest in all the characters but it never becomes too overwhelming with the different POV’s. It just keeps the story flowing nicely as there’s always a new angle to explore, or new pieces of evidence shedding light on the latest investigation. And with the world of online dating now more prevalent it really gives the reader more connection – and scare them off going on a dating app EVER again!!!

I also found the attention to detail spot on as it gives you a greater vision of the settings and the nuances of each character, which made it much easier to connect with and want to know more about them all. The tension was always there and it was really cleverly executed!! Highly recommend!

★★★★★

Many thanks to the author, Sadie Ryan, for the gifted e-copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

BookReview A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE FOR THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The sixth heartwarming, feel-good instalment in the much-loved Railway Girls series!

Manchester, 1942. There are surprises in store for the railway girls this festive season…

When Cordelia’s daughter Emily falls for a young chap who doesn’t meet the approval of her father, Cordelia is reminded of her own first love – a love that she has never forgotten.

Mabel is determined to get to the bottom of a spate of local burglaries. Her heart is in the right place as she sets out on a quest to clear her friend’s name, but there will be unforeseen consequences.

It’s nothing short of a miracle when Colette returns to Manchester. But it’s not going to be easy for her to keep living the life she once knew, and an impossible situation lies ahead.

There will be more than one storm for the railway girls to weather but with the friendship and support of one another, there’s hope that all will be well by Christmas…

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

Book 6 in the Railway Girls series and another sparkling installment that transports the reader back to Manchester during the War, and lets you catch up with the goings on of the wonderful Railway girls.

It’s always so nice to catch up with these characters through the good and the bad times that they experience. Their jobs around the Railways have given them strength and independance, but real life is still going on and that doesn’t always bring happiness their way. This is a story exploring young love, and dangerous old loves and seeing how the women cope during changing times.

These books really bring home to you the madness of the time – life carrying on as normal, but within seconds it can change and devastation and despair can often be round the corner. I loved seeing how they are there for one another and that you never can know what’s going on behind closed doors and it takes a lot sometimes to open up to people. The attitudes of the time are also explored, particularly relating to domestic abuse, and it opens your eyes to how ‘blind’ they were back home to the events going on around the world, compared to the way the news is 24/7 now in our world, it would take them a while to discover what was happening, especially concerning family members fighting.

I couldn’t put this book down until I’d found out what had happened to the characters and I’m already counting down the days until Book 7 is released in April 2023!! Brilliant!!

★★★★★

BlogTour A WINTER WISH by ROSIE GREEN #BookReview @rararesources @Rosie_Green88

Hello and welcome to my Blog!  And today I’m excited to be part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous A Winter Wish by Rosie Green!

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 Wish, Little Duck Pond Café

With her new-found happiness unexpectedly crushed, Clara is struggling to move forward. It’s hard – especially with step-sister Lois bouncing around the place with joy and making all sorts of plans for the future. And when the household is shocked by a mysterious break-in and a neighbour makes a shocking accusation, Clara finds herself in an impossible position. It’s a situation that threatens to destroy her blossoming romance almost before it’s begun . . .

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3JYkLI5

Author Bio – 

Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a country village cafe. ‘Clara’s Secret Garden’, the first in a trilogy telling Clara’s story, was published in August, and ‘A Winter Wish’ is Book 2. Look out for ‘Clara’s Christmas Magic’, the third and final book in the trilogy, out in November 2022.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green88 

MY REVIEW

Number 24 in the Little Duck Pond series!! Time really does fly when you’re having fun reading a series and this just keeps delivering for me as a reader! Relatable, and likeable!, characters, a great setting and always a little twist that ramps things up and this one delivers on all front! It’s darker and more dramatic than some previous offerings, and I loved that side of the Little Duck Pond series!

We follow Clara again in the second of her ‘trilogy’ and this time she’s holding the family together as seems to be her role. It’s so important to her and she’s there for her half brother, while her mother is still finding life a struggle.  And her step sister is giddy with love and that’s driving Clara a little insane, especially as she’s hiding her own feelings – just like her to put others first over herself.

There are then some very dramatic events going on – no spoilers from me! – and it brings to the fore some darker secrets from the past and you wonder just how Clara and her family will deal .  I just cannot wait to see how this wonderful trilogy will end with the next book coming out very soon!

Another wonderful addition to the series and it always just makes me want more!!

★★★★★

BlogTour CLARA’S SECRET GARDEN by ROSIE GREEN #BookReview @rararesources @Rosie_Green88

Hello all and welcome to my spot on the wonderful Blog Tour for the fabulous CLARA’S SECRET GARDEN by Rosie Green!! 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!

Clara’s Secret Garden, Little Duck Pond Café


When Clara Bowes transforms a wilderness of a garden, she isn’t expecting to reconnect with someone special from her past at the same time. Having Rory Angel in her life again is a dream come true. But life is never straight forward – especially in matters of the heart – and soon, a devastating revelation looks set to bring Clara’s hopes for the future crashing down around her. Will she find the strength to reach for her dreams?

Purchase Link – 

https://amzn.to/3cZHJSR

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Author Bio – 

Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a country village cafe. Look out for ‘A Winter Wish’, published in October, the second book in a heart-warming trilogy centred around peacemaker Clara, who’s having to cope with the demands of her slightly dysfunctional family while searching for her own happy-ever-after . . .

The third book in the trilogy is ‘Clara’s Christmas Magic’, out in November 2022.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green88

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MY REVIEW

Here we are again!!  Number 23 in the Little Duck Pond series and feeling as fresh and captivating as the first in the series!!!  It’s always so comforting to be reunited with the Duck Pond crew and discover new favourite characters and Clara may now be mine!  And knowing this is the first in a little Clara trilogy makes me very happy!!

Clara is one of those dependable and quiet characters. Always putting others first but never grumbling about it despite having dreams and desires of her own.   She takes on the task of re-taming the garden that her Gran has ‘let go’ despite knowing very little about gardening and thankfully gets help from the very lovely Rory, an old schoolfriend of hers.    

Where Clara finds her happy is in baking, so there’s always that link to cakes somewhere around in these books!!  And there’s many trials and tribulations for her to face throughout this book that will get you on her side and got me wondering just how I’d cope in her position  as sometimes the weight of the world is put on her shoulder as she tries to please everyone.

I loved how we got to know Clara so well during this book – looking back on her past really allowed you to see what she has gone through, and why she is so keen to please and be kind as an adult.  I really can’t wait to see what the author has in store for Clara as she starts to follow her dreams!! I want them to come true!!!

This is a super addition to the Little Duck Pond series, and can easily be read as a standalone if you’ve not read any of the previous books in the series!  Roll on Book 24!!

★★★★★

BookReview ORPHEUS BUILDS A GIRL by HEATHER PARRY #OrpheusBuildsAGirl


ABOUT THE BOOK

Based on a true story, Orpheus Builds a Girl is a novel of sisterly love, sinister obsession, and the battle for control of the story. A dark, chilling debut novel from award-winning writer Heather Parry.

German doctor Wilhelm Von Tore shares with the reader the story of his one true ove; a love written in the stars, decades in the making, a love so strong it transcended death itself. When Wilhelm emigrates to America he carries with him a vision of a dark-haired beauty, presented to him in his dreams by his beloved late Grandmother. In Key West, Florida, a beautiful young woman is taken to him in the grip of illness, and he recognises her immediately as his promised bride. Despite his efforts, the sickness takes hold and his beloved slips away from him. But Wilhelm will not be kept from his destiny, not even by death. Using research compiled over decades, he sets about attempting to restore his love to her body, so that they might be together forever.

But there’s another voice in this story: Gabriela, and she will not let this version of events go unchallenged. From between the cracks in Wilhelm’s story Gabriela recounts her own memory of her sister Luciana, a fiery and difficult young woman, and the madman who robbed her from her grave.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

PUBLISHER WEBSITE

 MY REVIEW

Wow! Some stories make you stop in your tracks and this is one of those! Based on real events – eek! – this is a gripping, captivating and eerie tale of obsession, darkness and different perceptions of love. I loved it!!

We get differing points of view on the story of Luci – one from her sister Gabriela who wants to set the record straight, and the other from Willhelm, who claims that Luci was the love of his life. Their stories differ about what happened and you get taken along for the ride of who you are more likely to believe!

Willhelm is a fascinating character – left by his father at a very young age, he was raised by his grandmother as his mother was too young to be maternal, and then he cared for his grandmother when she became sick. He saw things very spiritually and claims that his grandma showed him the woman he was going to marry so his quest was to find her.

And the story of Gabriella and her sister Luci was a very different one – raised in Cuba in a large family, they were always in trouble! They lived in turbulent times so had to move for a new life in America and that’s where Luci started rebelling more.

Their paths cross when Luci became sick, and the obsession for Willhelm took over. They were destined to meet in his eyes so he was where he needed to be – her family saw a different side to it all.

What follows is dark and macabre but is a fascinating insight into that obsessive part of a persons’ personality that leaves them devoid of reason or emotion and it was just chilling to read as the story unfolds. As a debut novel I found it to be a staggering piece of work and one of my favourite reads of 2022!!

★★★★★

BookReview THE WINNERS by FREDRIK BACKMAN

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?

Everything.

PUBLISHED BY ATRIA BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Another marvel of a book from this author, and a truly fitting end to an immensely emotional, impactful and outstanding series!

This Beartown series has been a truly emotional rollercoaster of a read! The author has an amazing gift of making you part of the community that you’re reading about so you feel every punch to the gut of all that the inhabitants go through – and in Beartown they go through a lot!!

Picking up 2 years after the last book, this throws you straight back in to witness yet more trauma for the locals, having to deal with a major storm, the death of a much loved member of the community and the aftershocks still of the events from Book 1. And still at the heart of the book are the goings on of the ice hockey teams that unite and divide so many people. It festers amongst those who were at the centre of it all, and the ripples effect everyone and it’s just so devastating and dramatic to read the goings on via the viewpoints of a number of characters. How they try to move on but the scars are never too far away and how it has changed them all. All of their lives have changed for ever and this book captures in stunning detail just how so.

Sport still plays a huge part of their lives and adding corruption to the mix is never going to end well for anybody. It also shows how it can unite at times, and there’s also that sense of characters doing what they can to survive – either by shouting loudly or staying quiet for their own sanity sake. So many characters in this book have such strong storylines that you’re left gasping for breath sometimes by the constant turmoil that so many have to face and combat.

I have adored this series despite it making me sob uncontrollably and feel anger at the injustices that many have faced, but then pride at their bravery and spirit. A masterclass in writing and I will continue to rave about this series forever!! Thankyou Fredrik Backman!!

★★★★★

BookReview BOOTH by KAREN JOY FOWLER

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.

In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next 16 years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the children grow and the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and disasters begin to take their toll. A startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of brother- and sisterhood, Booth is a riveting historical novel focused on the very things that bind, and break, a family.

PUBLISHED BY SERPENT’S TAIL

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

 MY REVIEW

This has been my favourite book to read off the Booker Longlist 2022 – no wonder it never made it to the shortlist! I’m a kiss of death to books!! But I found this piece of historical storytelling to be totally absorbing and really gave a sense of life from 1822 onwards in America, when so much was going on politically and had such an impact on people all across the country.

John Wilkes Booth is a name known to many as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln, and this book centres around the Booth family – their beginnings and encounters in the years leading up to that event. I love how each character is given their own voice to tell their own story – how the children had to grow up fast to be responsible for the parents, the struggles,the successes, the losses…. it really gives you a glimpse into how people lived at the times and how political changes were impacting families.

The story is told over a number of years and that had the most impact for me – you could see how their lives were impacted by things they saw, people they met – and then alongside their story, the story of Lincoln and how his life was panning out so it gave you a real sense of the timelines of these families whose paths were about to cross….oh and there’s a character called Harriet Mace and I do always like to see a namesake character in a book!

I found it to be totally absorbing and loved seeing the different points of view, especially of the siblings of JWB. The incident of ‘that night’ that is in the history books, is only a very small part of this book and that worked so brilliantly for me as a reader. It was described perfectly, alongside the aftershock for the family and how they found out what their brother had done.

I found this to be a fabulous read and gave me great insight in to such an infamous name in history and the impact that has on the family around.

★★★★★

BlogTour EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD @renardpress @iain_hood #BookReview

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

Every Trick in the Book

Iain Hood

There’s only control, control of ourselves and others. And you have to decide what part you play in that control.

Cast your eye over the comfortable north London home of a family of high ideals, radical politics and compassionate feelings. Julia, Paul and their two daughters, Olivia and Sophie, look to a better society, one they can effect through ORGAN:EYES, the campaigning group they fundraise for and march with, supporting various good causes.

But is it all too good to be true? When the surface has been scratched and Paul’s identity comes under the scrutiny of the press, a journey into the heart of the family begins. Who are these characters really? Are any of them the ‘real’ them at all? Every Trick in the Book is a genre-deconstructing novel that explodes the police procedural and undercover-cop story with nouveau romanish glee. Hood overturns the stone of our surveillance society to show what really lies beneath.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Iain Hood was born in Glasgow and grew up in the seaside town of Ayr. He attended the University of Glasgow and Jordanhill College, and later worked in education in Glasgow and the west country. He attended the University of Manchester after moving to Cambridge, where he continues to live with his wife and daughter. His first novel, This Good Book, was published in 2021.

MY REVIEW

The phrase ‘appearances can be deceptive’ comes straight to mind after reading this book and it was another fabulous reading experience thanks to the author – if you’ve not picked up his previous book, This Good Book, then go grab that as well as you won’t be disappointed!  

It’s so difficult to pin this book down to any one particular genre, and it’s one of those story that resonates so clearly with the times we are living in, where all that glitters is not gold!  We are fed images of people with the perfect lives, believing the  perception of their happiness, but in Every Trick of the Book we see that sometimes people aren’t who they say they are, and their hidden lives are much darker and this book approaches that with humour and a bit of snark, and I loved it!  It doesn’t shirk away from poking fun at everybody – right, left, media, police, celebs – and shows it all up for the hypocrisy that is often displays!

At the heart of the story are a ‘normal’ family living a very comfortable life, on the surface, following the latest causes, and then a journalist starts digging and uncovers some uncomfortable truths about their real identities, and that’s where the fun and mayhem begins!

There’s always that mystery about what is being hidden,and why,  and that kept me turning the pages faster and faster to find out, and the redacted passages just add to the confusion and head scratching!  This is a smart book and one that makes you think, makes you laugh and makes you feel that we’re all just going through life just trying to make sense of it all!  And even when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’re often far from the mark!!

This, for me, was one of those books that makes you want to re-read it almost immediately so you can pick up on those hidden messages you may have missed first time round!   A book that ticks every box for me entertainment wise, and as for Who Do I Trust?! Absolutely nobody!!

★★★★★

BookReview THE NIGHT SHIP by JESS KIDD #TheNightShip

ABOUT THE BOOK

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.

PUBLISHED BY CANONGATE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Waterstones

MY REVIEW

Loved. Loved. Loved!!!


An astonishing piece of historical fiction that had me under its’ spell from page one and still has me mesmerized even now!! Jess Kidd has a wonderful way of storytelling, and I think this might be her best yet. Told over 2 timelines, featuring 2 amazing child characters who lived so far apart timewise, but had so much in common. Their stories will break your heart and inspire and I’m already itching to read it all over again!

This story is based on real life events, and starts in 1628 with Mayken who is travelling on board the Batavia with her nursemaid to a new life overseas. She has never met her father but is travelling to join him after the passing of her mother.

And in 1989, we meet the character of Gil, who is a lost soul after losing his mother and he’s travelling to live with his grandfather who lives on an Island and makes a living fishing. The Island is where the Batavia ran aground causing a huge loss of life.

The switching timelines work in tandem to perfection – the excitement of Mayken, the trepidation of Gil, as they both set out on different paths and exploring the loss of their mothers and the impact that has on them as very young children.

It’s a book that made me lose time as I just became so involved in the lives of these characters! From the settings, the complexity of family relationships to the pure emotion as you watch over these children as they’re faced with all kinds of challenges.

I could easily wax lyrical for hours about this book as it was just a sheer delight to read from start to finish, but I won’t so you can enjoy the drama of it all for yourself – cannot recommend it highly enough and easily one of my most favourite books of 2022.

★★★★★