#CoverReveal MAKE IT UP TO YOU by LUCY KEELING @ChocLituk

COVER REVEAL

Hello!! I’m back with yet another fab and funky cover to share with you all on behalf of Lucy Keeling and the team at Choc Lit! And this release is out in September so not long before you can get your mitts on it – and it sounds like such a fun read too! 

ABOUT THE BOOK

What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?

Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.

Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way …

Make It Up To You will be published by Choc Lit 17th September and will be available to purchase as an eBook on all platforms and also in audio

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And here it is – in all its’ pink loveliness!!!

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Loving the idea of the worlds of  make-up and gardening being mixed together!! An interesting mix!! Hurry up September!!

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#BlogTour #BookReview A Right Royal Face-Off by Simon Edge #Giveaway @rararesources @EyeAndLightning

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for A RIGHT ROYAL FACE-OFF by SIMON EDGE.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the copy of the book and putting this tour together – and letting me be part of it all!

There’s also a chance for you to win a copy of this book too!! I do spoil you……..

A Right Royal Face-Off

It is 1777, and England’s second-greatest portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, has a thriving practice a stone’s thrown from London’s royal palaces, while the press talks up his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the pedantic theoretician who is the top dog of British portraiture.

Fonder of the low life than high society, Gainsborough loathes pandering to grand sitters, but he changes his tune when he is commissioned to paint King George III and his large family. In their final, most bitter competition, who will be chosen as court painter, Tom or Sir Joshua?

Meanwhile, two and a half centuries later, a badly damaged painting turns up on a downmarket antiques TV show being filmed in Suffolk. Could the monstrosity really be, as its eccentric owner claims, a Gainsborough? If so, who is the sitter? And why does he have donkey’s ears?

Mixing ancient and modern as he did in his acclaimed debut The Hopkins Conundrum, Simon Edge takes aim at fakery and pretension in this highly original celebration of one of our greatest artists.

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Purchase Link

Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURFACE

Eye Lightning Books

Author Bio –

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years.

He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London. His first novel, The Hopkins Conundrum, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. He lives in Suffolk.   Read more about Simon and his work at http://www.simon-edge.com.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @simonjedge

Instagram: @simonjedge

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a book that is the perfect antidote to the miserable, crazy world we currently live in, then you’ve come to the right place!!  This is a Georgian comedy about Thomas Gainsborough  and his rival painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds – if you thought the art world was stuffy and dull then think again!  It’s a book that made me smile and chuckle on numerous occasions and I just adored spending time with these characters and wondering where the story would take me!

It’s a dual timeline story – from the present time when a new antiques show is about to debut on TV and they’re looking to spice things up, to the past where we see Thomas dealing with royalty and rivalry on a grand scale!  There’s also letters we get to read from the past as we read the Georgian goings on from the point of view of David, a servant to the master painter and he has a whole different take on events at work, as he reports back to his family and let them know about a world they can’t even  begin to imagine!

Gainsborough is a  wonderful character! He almost seems to resent having to paint portraits but it pays the bills and he wants to be #1 – not easy when Sir Joshua seems to be flavour of the month! I loved the behind the scenes  goings on too at a sitting for a painting – the royal family gossiping and complaining about life as they chat with him!

In the present we get to witness how the world of TV operates, especially reality shows who try and use the public and humiliate them – when Muriel Mudge takes a painting along to be valued they think they’ve struck gold with her absurd claim but they’re soon the ones eating humble pie when she digs in her heels and refuses to speak to them as they try and make amends when doubts start to creep in!

The whole flow of this book was just pitched perfectly! There’s a great balance between the two timelines and so much to keep you entertained and intrigued! Just why is there a painting of a man with donkey ears?!  You can tell that the author has had so much fun with creating this storyline as it really comes across and his imagination has run riot!

A blast to read and quite touching too at times! It’s a book that has a little bit of everything from history, to mystery to satire and it  is one I highly recommend to everyone!

★★★★★

GIVEAWAY

A treat for those of you in the UK who want to win a copy of this fabulous book!

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of A Right Royal Face-Of (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click below to enter!! GOOD LUCK!!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494259/?

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#CoverReveal REACH FOR A STAR by KATHRYN FREEMAN @ChocLituk

cover reveal

Hello!!! Welcome to Books and Me! for  yet another COVER REVEAL on behalf of the wonderful Kathryn Freeman and Choc Lit!!  This cover is super glamorous and sounds like another cracker of a story so I hope you’re as excited as I am!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

Reach For a Star will be published by Choc Lit 24th September and will be available to purchase as an eBook on all platforms and also in audio.

★★★★★

So, are we ready?!  Here we go…..

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Simply stunning I hope you agree!!!  I hope you now have a mark on your calendar for the 24th September – I do!! Cannot wait for this one!! And I’m now going to be singing ‘Reach for the Stars’ by S Club 7 for the rest of the day….. sing along with me!! 😉

★★★★★

#20BooksOfSummer Man With A Seagull on his Head by Harriet Paige #bookreview

Finally I’m back with another book finished off the list!  This was book 10 and another one from my ‘little’ list, where it’s under 200 pages.  I think that is 7 books read now from my ‘little’ list so I really need to up my game on the ‘large’ book front – if only there weren’t so many other books I need to read for blog tours and publication dates!!

And what a stunner of a book this was!  I don’t know if I connected to it more because it was set very locally to me, but I just found it to be so absorbing and touching!

A gull falls from the sky and strikes a council worker on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary depicting the scene and the unknown figure with in who filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draws others to him, but can they lay hold of that which possesses him? And what of his anonymous muse?

‘A bona fide gem. A book that would be a credit on any short list.’Guardian

PUBLISHED BY BlueMoose Books

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website  £8.99

hive.co.uk  £6.25

WHSmith  £6.47

MY REVIEW

Quirky and poignant – my kind of book! And set in the south east corner of Essex that I know so well, this was a wonderfully touching little read that made a very hot afternoon fly by.

Centred around Ray Eccles who lives a quiet life in a quiet cul-de-sac in Southend On Sea, he’s a succesful artist but you’d never know it to see him. Happy to stay out of the limelight and keep to himself – but that all changes when he has a rather unfortunate incident on Shoebury East Beach with a seagull. Witnessed by one woman, he returns home from hospital with her face on his mind and starts his obsession with her that takes over his whole artistic outlook and sees him paint the same scene for 10 years.

The woman who saw the incident with the seagull has her own quiet life – working in a clothes shop, living a normal life but when the work of Ray Eccles becomes a huge success, she knows that the face he is painting is her. She doesn’t know how to feel about it and the struggle she faces is brilliantly portrayed.

The whole cast of charaters in this book are such a wonderful mix of the good and bad sides of humanity. The art studio owners who look upon Ray as their pet project when they take his work to London and have him move in with them, the local reporter from the Evening Echo trying to make her name with a breaking story, and especially Ray himself who never escapes his ‘oddball’ personna and seems happiest when he’s doing his own thing and not living by the rules of normal life.

I loved the touching and human side of the story and the familiarity of the places visited really brought this to life for me – any book that features Keddies is fine by me! It had a great mix of humour and tragedy, and the absurd side of the art world where anything seems to go if it has the right PR behind it, no matter the effect on the artist who was just trying to make sense of what happened to him and dealing with his grief and loneliness.

A stunning little book and one I’m very glad to have read!

★★★★

#BlogTour #BookReview A HOME FROM HOME by VERONICA HENRY #AHomeFromHome #RandomThingsTours

A huge delight to be part of the Blog Tour for A HOME FROM HOME by VERONICA HENRY today to share my thoughts.  Thank you so much to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 Sunshine, cider and family secrets…

Dragonfly Farm has been a home and a haven for generations of Melchiors – arch rivals to the Culbones, the wealthy family who live the other side of the river. Life there is dictated by the seasons and cider-making, and everyone falls under its spell.

For cousins Tabitha and Georgia, it has always been a home from home. When a tragedy befalls their beloved great-uncle Matthew, it seems the place where they’ve always belonged might now belong to them…

But the will reveals that a third of the farm has also been left to a total stranger. Gabriel Culbone has no idea why he’s been included, or what his connection to the farm – or the Melchiors – can be.

As the first apples start to fall for the cider harvest, will Dragonfly Farm begin to give up its secrets?

A Home from Home is the very best of Veronica Henry’s storytelling – gorgeous scenes you wish you could step into, a cast of characters who feel like friends, and an irresistibly feel-good family drama crossing three generations.

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Discover Veronica Henry – your favourite authors’ favourite author:

‘Wise, insightful, beautifully written. A delicious treat of a book’ Milly Johnson

‘An utter delight’ Jill Mansell

‘Truly blissful escapism’ Lucy Diamond

‘A heart-warming, triumphant story combined with Veronica’s sublime writing – the perfect mix!’ Cathy Bramley

‘A beautiful book. Warm, emotional and full of hope’ Sarah Morgan

‘Veronica Henry has such a deft hand with families and their complications’ Katie Fforde

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

WHSmith

Author Website

MY REVIEW

As a huge fan of Veronica Henry I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book, and it has been an absolute treat to read from start to finish.  Dragonfly Farm is the perfect setting for a story full of drama, love, tragedy and tons of family secrets to be revealed.

There’s a great cast of characters in A HOME FROM HOME.  At the centre is Tabitha – a hard-working woman who seems to be able to turn her hand to most things and has happily lived at Dragonfly Farm for a number of years with her great uncle Matthew, and the pride they take in the place and the family business is lear for all to see.

When he passes, Tabitha and her cousin Georgia are shocked to find out that Matthew has left a third of the farm to a complete stranger to them –  Gabriel Culbone.  Hearing the surname has them even more shocked as there has always been ‘beef’ between the Culbones and the Melchiors, and the revelations that soon follow send shockwaves through both families.

To his credit Gabriel is as in the dark as Tabitha and Georgia as to his connection to this Farm.  He’s an artisan knife-maker and just looking to do the best for his family and beloved daughter, so the girls are concerned that he’ll want to sell his share and they could lose the farm they hold so dear to their hearts.

The story then jumps back and forth to look back at the family over different time periods and to find out the truth of what happened over the years to cause the rifts and to shed light on the future for Dragonfly Farm.

With a wide range of characters there are so many avenues for the author to explore and you get some really enthralling storylines to follow, especially from the past and I loved the different emotions you went through reading their stories.  

 A truly charming book, and one I adored!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour #BookReview A Cornish Affair by Jo Lambert @rararesources @RubyFiction

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for the wonderful A CORNISH AFFAIR by JO LAMBERT.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all and sharing my thoughts.

A Cornish Affair

 In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family. The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging. But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio –

 Jo Lambert lives on the eastern edge of Bath with her husband, one small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. She has been writing since 2008. Her first five books, a set of linked romantic sagas following the lives of several families in West Somerset, was followed in 2015 by Summer Moved On, a contemporary romance set in South Devon. A sequel, Watercolours in th Rain followed in 2017, In June 2018 Jo signed to Choc Lit and her debut A Cornish Affair, set in North Cornwall, has just been published. Jo is currently working on another coastal romance, this time set in South Cornwall. When she isn’t writing she reads and reviews. She also has an active blog. Jo loves travel, red wine and rock music and she often takes the odd photograph or two.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://jolambertbooks.com

Blog: http://jolambertwriter.blog

Twitter: @jolambertwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jolambert185

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jo-lambert-6 4644530

Instagram: jolambertwriter185

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a book that has a little bit of everything – romance, drama, dark family secrets and plenty of twists and turns throughout  which made for such an entrancing read that I loved!

Set in Cornwall, the stunning backdrop adds to the whole scene and you’re soon immersed in the lives of these characters – mainly Luke and Cat.  Luke Carrack has been away for a couple of years and seems to have a bit of a reputation with rumours about him never far away, so he’s happy to keep to himself and just try and get on with his life.

Cat Trevelyon is the local hoteliers’ daughter and is back to start the events managment job at the hotel and her first meeting with Luke gets things  off to an interesting start! Definitely a case of mistaken identity which breaks the ice but soon starts off a connection between them – they both seem to have trust issues so that helps them bond and they find it very easy to talk to one another although you still get the feeling they’re holding things back from one another.

Add to the mix the local gossips who are out to cause trouble and it really sets things up for some very intriguing circumstances and to delve into the past which brings up a lot of bad feeling, jealousy and some startling revelations.

I really enjoyed the whole feel of this book – it never felt twee or too light as it dealt with some serious and darker issues which made it feel more real and added to the tension.  In Luke and Cat you have 2 very relatable characters who you warm to through their attitudes to life and  the things they find themselves facing.

An excellent read and I look forward to more from this author in the future.

★★★★★

#BlogTour #BookReview David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders

Excited to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for DAVID MOGO, GODHUNTER by SUYI DAVIES OKUNGBOWA.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the copy of the book and for putting this tour together!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Nigerian God-Punk – a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard. 

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK   £7.67

hive.co.uk  £7.99

whsmith  £6.47

MY REVIEW

The gods have fallen, there’s chaos on Earth but life continues as normal in Laos and David Mogo is trying to earn a living as a Godhunter, while also trying to figure himself out – life isn’t easy if you’re a mix of a human and a god!!  And what follows is a fun mix of fast paced action and the fantastical chaos of living in a messed up world, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and spending time in a world which has been creatively invented by the author.

It did take me a little while to ‘get’ the speech used but it soon clicked and really immersed you into the world, and allowed you to really get a feel for the characters and the craziness they are surrounded by!

 In David Mogo, a character has been created who is such an intriguing person – very conflicted as a person, but dealing with his own powers and trying to figure out the best way to use them.  In his work as a godhunter he is placed in the middle of the action which was really exciting – he’s a person with a good heart but a tough exterior.

There are some very shady characters around which takes the story down some darker paths, but there’s enough humour around to lighten the mood of this read and the message about sacrifice and trust between people comes through loud and clear.

A fascinating debut and fun read and I look forward to more from this author in the future!

★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 20th July 2019

Howdy!  It’s a stormy/sunny kind of day here and I’m feeling as conflicted as the weather!!  Had a lovely week with my nephew here but now feeling completely wiped out and ready to drop! Insomnia thrown into the mix has added to the fun…. maybe I should blame the partial lunar eclipse we saw earlier in the week too for the change in my mood!

And the past week hasn’t been good on the reading front – just 2 finished this week, but both 5 stars so shouldn’t grumble!  On the other hand it’s been a very good week for adding books to the TBR pile via Netgalley and real copies – definitely blaming the moon for that!

Here’s a look back…

BOOKS FINISHED

THE GIRL AT THE WINDOW by ROWAN COLEMAN – 5 STARS

 A wonderful mix of history, mix and ghostly goings on – loved it. Full review to follow on Blog Tour next month!

THE WAREHOUSE by ROB HART – 5 STARS

Shocking and scarily too close for comfort Dystopian thriller! Full review to follow on Blog Tour next month!

BOOKHAUL

As always, we’ll begin at Netgalley…

THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS By JESSICA  REDLAND

out September 2019

Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…

Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.

Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through …

When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…

An uplifting story of friendship and finding the strength to come to terms with the past. Perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Cathy Bramley.

A THOUSAND ROADS HOME by CARMEL HARRINGTON

out October 2019

Meet Tom. Or Dr O’Grady, as he used to be called. When you pass him on the street, most people don’t even give him a second glance. You see, Tom isn’t living his best life. Burdened by grief, he’s only got his loyal dog, Bette Davis, for company and a rucksack containing his whole world.

Then there’s Ruth and her son, DJ, who no longer have a place to call home. But Ruth believes that you can change the world by helping one person at a time – and Tom needs her help.

There are a thousand ways to find your home – you just need to be brave enough to look for them.

A SINGLE THREAD by TRACY CHEVALIER

out September 2019

It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt.

Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone.

A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…
 
Warm, vivid and beautifully orchestrated, A Single Thread reveals one of our finest modern writers at the peak of her powers.

A SHADOW ON THE LENS by SAM HURCOM

out September 2019

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me. He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder. Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

THE CHAIN by ADRIAN McKINTY – signed first edition via GOLDSBORO BOOKS

You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE LOST by CAROLINE SCOTT

out October 2019. blog tour in August 2019!

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…
An epic debut novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

MAGIC FOR LIARS by SARAH GAILEY

copy for review from Tor Books

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach

ZIPPY AND ME by RONNIE LE DREW 

copy via Unbound where I supported this project in the early stages!

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.

Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

I made the mistake of visiting a library book sale…. these 3 all for the total of 75p!

THE CROSSING by ANDREW MILLER

From the author of the Costa Book of the Year Pure, a hypnotic, luminous exploration of buried grief and the mysterious workings of the heart.

She is sailing. She is alone. Ahead of her is the world’s curve and beyond that, everything else. The known, the imagined, the imagined known.

Who else has entered Tim’s life the way Maud did? This girl who fell past him, lay seemingly dead on the ground, then stood and walked. That was where it all began.

He wants her – wants to rescue her, to reach her. Yet there is nothing to suggest Maud has any need of him, that she is not already complete. A woman with a talent for survival, who works long hours and loves to sail – preferably on her own. A woman who, when a crisis comes, will turn to the sea for refuge, embarking on a voyage that will test her to the utmost, that will change everything …

SLADE HOUSE by DAVID MITCHELL

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late…

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

THE KING’S DECEPTION by STEVE BERRY

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.
 
At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.
 
Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.
 
Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
 
Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

CURRENTLY READING

BLAMING by ELIZABETH TAYLOR

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HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 13th July 2019

hello!! so we’re halfway through July already…. temperatures have warmed up nicely again so the garden is blooming with flowers and buzzing with wildlife! And the books they keep on coming!!

Weirdly, I’m in the middle of a little reading slump – 4 days now without having picked up anything to read and I’m really not sure why it’s happening!! Help!!  I’ve been listening on and off to a couple of audiobooks, but I seem to have lost the ability to lose myself in a book! Hopefully I can get back on track over the weekend – although with so much sport on TV on Sunday that might prove impossible!

Saying that though, I’ve still managed to finish 6 (1 of which was an audiobook) this week so god knows how that happened haha!!  And I was led astray by the evil Netgalley again with 4 new additions to those shelves….definitely need to log myself out of there again for a while!  

here’s a look back at my week!

BOOKS FINISHED

The Carer by Deborah Moggach  – 4 stars

Really enjoyed this one

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill – 5 stars

Loved this! Empowering & Inspiring – read it!

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan – 5 stars

Another stunner of a book! Fabulous historical fiction! May be the reason I now have a book hangover!

A Right Royal Face-Off by Simon Edge – 5 stars

so much fun!! historical fiction set in the art world – blog tour later in the month!!

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart – 4 stars

Light and easy to read!

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (audiobook) – 5 stars

Loved this book when I read it the first time, so having the chance to hear it has made me love it all over again! Beautifully read by  Paula Wilcox

BOOKPOST/HAUL

Shall we begin over at evil Netgalley……

Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin

out August 2019

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

THE BEEKEEPER’S COTTAGE by EMMA DAVIES

out August 2019

Comforted by the gentle hum of the beehives at the bottom of the garden, Grace drains the last of her tea and walks slowly back towards the little hillside house she adores. Her marriage is over, but is it too late to start her life again? 

Beekeeper Grace thought throwing out her cheating husband would be the hardest thing she ever did. But when she opens the door to a property developer one morning, it’s clear that keeping the beautiful home and garden – her only sanctuary throughout her miserable marriage – will be the greatest challenge of all… 

Fleeing to her best friend at the flower farm next door, Grace blurts out all her problems, only to be overheard by Amos, a handsome, free-spirited visitor in bright red Doc Martens. Fascinated by Grace and her bees, Amos offers to stay in the village of Hope Corner, to help turn her home into a guest house in return for lessons on beekeeping. 

As Grace shows Amos how to nurture a hive and harvest honeycomb without getting stung, he is charming but secretive. He never stays long in the same place after an incident in his past involving a mysterious woman named Maria. But as their eyes lock over a jar of homemade honey, Grace can’t help feeling that she’d really like him to stay… 

Determined to dispel her growing suspicion that Amos is running from something serious, Grace goes in search of the truth about Maria. But when she finds it, will she still want Amos to put down roots in Hope Corner, and will they still have a house to return to? 

A CHAIN ACROSS THE DAWN

out August 2019

Bigger spaceships. Bigger explosions. Bigger planets.  Bigger problems.

It’s been three years since Esa joined the ranks of the Justified after her rescue from the fanatical murderers the Pax. Together, Esa and her mentor Kamali travel from planet to planet, searching for children with supernatural abilities. It’s hard work, but Esa has never felt more assured of her place in the universe. 
 
On a visit to a planet so remote that its inhabitants never learned that the Sect Wars ended over a hundred years ago, they learn that the Justified are not the only people searching for gifted children. There is a creature with unexpected powers who will stop at nothing to get its hands on the children that Esa and Kamali are trying to rescue.
 
With their latest recruit in tow — a young Wulf child named Sho — Esa and Kamali will travel halfway across the galaxy in pursuit of answers. But the answers only lead to more questions, and the danger will only increase as their terrifying nemesis turns his eyes on them.

MUDLARKING by LARA MAIKLEM

out August 2019

A lyrical and evocative narrative history of London and its people, told through objects found on the banks of the Thames by the city’s most prominent mudlark

For thousands of years human beings have been losing their possessions and dumping their rubbish in the River Thames, making it the longest and most varied archaeological site in the world. For those in the know, the muddy stretches provide a tangible link with the past, a connection to the natural world, and an oasis of calm in a chaotic city…

For fifteen years, Lara Maiklem has walked the Thames foreshore, spending innumerable hours peering into the mud for items discarded by past generations of Londoners. The list of things Lara has rescued from the river is long and varied: from Neolithic flints, Roman hair pins and medieval shoe buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes, seventeenth-century love tokens and discarded war medals. 

Mudlarking is the story of the River Thames and its people, told through the objects that Lara has eased from its muddy clutches over the years. Weaving her story through and around the history of the River, from prehistory to the present day, she uses her finds to bring the ordinary lives of long forgotten Londoners to life 

HOW TO CATCH A MOLE by MARC HAMER

hardback edition via Nudge Books Subscription Bundle

‘It is rare to encounter such respect and understanding of nature for herself.’ Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows

A life-affirming book about the British countryside, the cycle of nature, solitude and contentment, through the prism of a brilliant new nature writer’s experience working as a traditional mole-catcher, and why he gave it up.

I have been catching moles in gardens and farms for years and I have decided that I am not going to do it any more. Molecatching is a traditional skill that has given me a good life but I am old now and tired of hunting and it has taught me what I needed to learn. 

Although common, moles are mysterious: their habits are inscrutable, they are anatomically bizarre, and they live completely alone. Marc Hamer has come closer to them than most, both through his long working life out in the Welsh countryside, and his experiences of rural homelessness as a boy, sleeping in hedgerows.

Over the years, Marc has learned a great deal about these small, velvet creatures who live in the dark beneath us, and the myths that surround them, and his work has also led him to a wise and uplifting acceptance of the inevitable changes that we all face. In this beautiful and meditative book, Marc tells his story and explores what moles, and a life in nature, can tell us about our own humanity and our search for contentment.

How to Catch a Mole is a gem of nature writing, beautifully illustrated by Joe McLaren, which celebrates living peacefully and finding wonder in the world around us.

IMAGINARY CITIES by DARRAN ANDERSON

treated myself over at Influx Press as have heard good things!!

Inspired by the surreal accounts of the explorer and ‘man of a million lies’ Marco Polo, Imaginary Cities charts the metropolis and the imagination, and the symbiosis therein. A work of creative nonfiction, the book roams through space, time and possibility, mapping cities of sound, melancholia and the afterlife, where time runs backwards or which float among the clouds. In doing so, Imaginary Cities seeks to move beyond the clichés of psychogeography and hauntology, to not simply revisit the urban past, or our relationship with it, but to invade and reinvent it. 

Following in the lineage of Borges, Calvino, Chris Marker and Kenneth White, the book examines the city from global macrocosm to the microcosm of its inhabitants’ perspectives. It proceeds through opium dreams, sea voyages, the hallucinations of prisoners, nocturnal decadence, impossible Soviet skyscrapers, marauding golems, subterranean civilisations, apocalyptic prophecies and the work of architectural visionaries such as Antonio Sant’Elia, Archigram and Buckminster Fuller. It rethinks the ideas of utopias and dystopias, urban exploration, alienation and resistance. It claims that the Situationists lacked ambition when they suggested, “Beneath the paving stones, the beach.” Instead, beneath the paving stones, we may just be able to discern the entire universe. 

Imaginary Cities demonstrates that each city dreamt up by artists, writers, architects and lunatics has a real-life equivalent and that the great Marco Polo was no liar. Imaginary Cities need not simply exist in fiction or the mind. We already inhabit them.

CURRENTLY READING

The Holiday Home by Fern Britton – audiobook

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

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HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

ABOUT THE BOOK

The year is 1792 and Herbert Powyss is set on making his name as a scientist. He is determined to study the effects of prolonged solitude on another human being, though before now Powyss’s sole subjects have been the plants in his greenhouse. He fills three rooms beneath Moreham House with books, paintings and even a pianoforte, then puts out an advertisement, hoping for a gentleman recluse to claim the substantial reward.

The only man desperate enough to apply is John Warlow, a semi-literate farm labourer who needs to support his wife Hannah and their six children. Cut off from nature and the turning of the seasons, Warlow soon begins losing his grip on sanity. Above ground, Powyss finds yet another distraction from his greenhouse in the form of Hannah, with whom he rapidly becomes obsessed. Does she return his feelings, or is she just afraid of his power over her family’s lives?

Meanwhile, the servants are brewing up a rebellion inspired by recent news from across the Channel. Powyss may have set events in motion, but he is powerless to prevent their explosive and devastating conclusion.

Elegantly told and utterly transporting, The Warlow Experiment is an outstanding literary novel that announces a major new voice in British fiction

published by Serpent’s Tail

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £9.99

whsmith £9.35

foyles  – £12.99 signed first edition

MY REVIEW

A Reward of £50 a year for life is offered to any man who will undertake to live for 7 years underground without seeing a human face: to let his toe and fingernails grow during the whole of his confinement, together with his beard.  Commodious apartments are provided with cold bath, chamber organ, as many books as the occupier shall desire.  Provisions will be served from Mr Powyss’s table.  Every convenience desired will be provided.

– Herbert Powyss, Moreham House, Herefordshire…   January , 1793

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Wow! Yep, one of those books that I found to have lived up to the hype that I’d heard about it before buying my own copy! A stunning piece of historical fiction that just made me slow my whole reading speed down so I could savour every word! Think it’s fair to say I enjoyed this one!!

When an advert was placed in 1783 by Herbert Powyss looking for somebody to volunteer to live in solitary confinement for 7 years, but surrounded by food, books etc for the princely sum of £50 a year for life, John Warlow steps forward thinking of the financial rewards for his family – a wife and 6 children – and not giving any thought to the severity of the experiment facing him.

Herbert Powyss is a reclusive scientist looking to make a name for himself and thinks a study of human behaviour is one way to get himself noticed, and in John Warlow he has someone who can be genuinely studied.

You might think that reading about a man being stuck in a cellar – a well appointed cellar at that – wouldn’t be much fun to read about, but what the author has done with this book is focus on the human impact, not only on John Warlow living life without speaking to another soul, but how his abscence affects his wife and children, how the scientist himself deals with his justification of using another human being, and how the servants in the home of Powyss come to terms of this man living beneath them.

It was such a fascinating concept and staggering to hear that the actual advert was really placed in 1793, and you can’t help but put yourself in that position and wonder how you’d deal with things in similar circumstances. Powyss himself was very reclusive and probably saw it as no hardship to be cut off from the real world for so long.

As the years go by, the impact on all the characters is clear to see and it’s clear that it isn’t only John Warlow who is suffering because of this experiment.

It’s often shocking and brutal, but is a totally enthralling study of human nature and behaviour and I was totally entranced from the first page to last! Brilliant!

★★★★★