#GuestPost THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @ChrisPenhall

An absolute delight to be having company on the Blog today to help celebrate the publication day of the wonderful THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL!!  Links to buy are below so go grab your copy and get that Summer feeling on!!

Over to you Chris…..

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Release Day post: The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall

The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve is the story of Layla Garcia, the apparently serene, successful, well-organised owner of a yoga and mindfulness studio called – yes, you’ve guessed it – The House on the Hill. The story follows her through the summer months of one memorable year, and it transpires that under that calm exterior is a swan with legs paddling faster and faster like a wind-up toy as time goes on in order to just keep things under control and the business running smoothly.

But that proves harder than she thinks, especially when a reminder of a past she’d rather not deal with moves in next door in the form of writer, Luke Mackie. He accidentally brings a spot of unwelcome, but – I’m going to be honest here – much-needed chaos to her life. And just to make things even more difficult for herself Layla decides not to tell him that their paths have already crossed. And voila – she manages to create another problem. For her. Not for him. He has no idea they have any kind of common history at all.

All of this is set against the backdrop of Lagos in the western Algarve – a place I love very much, and where I go often to relax, replenish and have quite a lot of fun.

There is a hill behind the long, beautiful stretch of sand that is Meia Praia and I decided that it was a perfect place for Layla’s studios where she can hide out, driving down to the beach or into the city when she needed to, but able to return and gaze at it all from a distance whenever she wants.

She can open the door onto the balcony outside her bedroom and listen to the birdsong and distant lapping of the waves after the daily morning yoga session before she faces the world. To the west, the white-washed buildings of Lagos, to the east, the lagoon separating Meia Praia and Alvor and Portimao, where elegant yachts pause for a while before gliding gracefully out to sea.

For me, this encapsulates Lagos, with its vibrance on one hand, and its serenity on the other. I can experience both within a 20-minute walk! In the summer, the streets are filled with life and music, whether it’s of buskers on street corners or guitarists in bars and restaurants across the city. And yet you can get away from the crowds simply by sitting on the sand of Praia de Batata next to the fort at the end of the Avenida as the sun goes down, where all is quiet, or pad around the narrow, cobbled back streets in the shadows of the city walls, and to the accompaniment of your footsteps and the occasional hum of conversation.

All of that is Layla’s world. She just needs to be careful the House on the Hill doesn’t really turn into her Fortress on the Hill.

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About the Book:

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!

Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.

But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.

Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3ygCc26 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3xPS0HJ 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/38AH8oO 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3PqObAO

About the Author:

Chris is a freelance writer and radio producer. Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it. She is now working on her second. A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. Chris has two grown-up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside. Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Chris debut novel, The House That Alice Built won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition sponsored by Your Cat Magazine.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisPenhall 

Like Chris on Facebook: Chris Penhall Author 

Visit Chris’s blog here: https://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 25th June 2022

Hello and Happy Saturday! I hope life is treating you well!! Enjoying the sunny weather here as it means lots of butterflies to spot out and about!! Nature rocks!!

And on the book front it’s been a pretty good week too – 4 books finished, 3 newbies added to the Netgalley shelves and 2 new books arrived in the post!! 

Here’s my look back

BOOKS FINISHED

A VACANCY FOR A VILLAGE VET by JOANNE BODEN – 5 STARS

GRACELAND by BETHAN ROBERTS – 3 STARS

ANY HUMAN HEART by WILLIAM BOYD – 4 STARS

THE WILDERNESS by SARAH DUGUID – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Starting with Netgalley! See what they tempted me with this week!!

THE FORGOTTEN BOOKSHOP IN PARIS by DAISY WOOD

publication date – October 2022

From an exciting new voice in WWII historical fiction comes a tale of love, loss and a betrayal that echoes through generations…

Paris, 1940
War is closing in on the city of love, and Jacques has already lost everything he holds dear – except his beloved bookshop, la page cachée. So when a young woman and her children knock on his door during a raid one night and beg for refuge, he knows he has nothing left to lose…
Modern day
Bostonian Juliette and her husband have finally made it to France on the romantic getaway of their dreams – but as the days pass, all she discovers is quite how far they’ve grown apart. She’s craving a new adventure, so when she happens across a tiny, abandoned bookshop with a for-sale sign in the window, it feels fated.
And she’s about to learn that the little bookshop hides a lot more than meets the eye…
A heartbreaking tale of love and loss in war, perfect for fans of Kate Quinn and Rachel Hore.

AN ITALIAN GIRL IN BROOKLYN by SANTA MONTEFIORE

publication date – July 2022

Dark secrets and hidden sorrows abound in Santa Montefiore’s spellbinding new novel set in war-torn Italy and the streets of New York.

‘Nobody does epic romance like Santa Montefiore’ JOJO MOYES
 
New York, 1979
 
It is Thanksgiving and Evelina has her close family and beloved friends gathered around, her heart weighted with gratitude for what she has and regret for what she has given up. She has lived in America for over thirty years, but she is still Italian in her soul. 
 
Northern Italy, 1934
 
Evelina leads a sheltered life with her parents and siblings in a villa of fading grandeur. When her elder sister Benedetta marries a banker, to suit her father’s wishes rather than her own, Evelina swears that she will never marry out of duty. She knows nothing of romantic love, but when she meets Ezra, son of the local dressmaker, her heart recognises it like an old friend. 
 
Evelina wants these carefree days to last forever. She wants to bask in sunshine, beauty and love and pay no heed to the grey clouds gathering on the horizon. But nothing lasts forever.  The shadows of war are darkening over Europe and precious lives are under threat…

ABANDONED TRAIN STATIONS by DAVID ROSS

publication date – August 2022

Mysterious ghost stations forgotten beneath the cities of Paris and London; desolate grand rail hubs in the Pyrenée mountains; metro stations in China that terminate in a wasteland: Abandoned Train Stations looks at some of the thousands of disused station buildings, platforms, lines, tunnels, and rail yards left behind by modernity.
 
Organized by continent, this book takes the reader to every corner of the globe. Explore Canfranc International Railway Station, once a busy mountain hub of international travel between France and Spain. See the eerily empty platform at Kings Cross Thameslink, London, today a service tunnel following the station’s closure in the early 2000s. Examine the grandiose Michigan Central Train Station in Detroit, an historic Amtrak rail depot, and once the tallest rail station in the world. Marvel at the dusty, overgrown shell of Abkhazia’s once-beautiful railway station in Psyrtskha, a physical legacy of the former Soviet era in the Caucasus. Abandoned Train Stations provides a fascinating pictorial journey through the little-known remnants of rail transport infrastructure from every part of the world.

And then in the post I received this one for review……

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by SANGU MANDANNA

publication date -August 2022

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family—and a new love—changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos “pretending” to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

And then my June book from my subscription to RENARD PRESS showed up…..

MRS DALLOWAY by VIRGINIA WOOLF

First published in 1925, set ‘one Wednesday in mid-June’, Mrs Dalloway charts the lives of several characters across a day in London. While Clarissa Dalloway goes about preparing for a high-society party she is to host that evening, pondering on her childhood and marriage, nearby Septimus Warren Smith, a First World War veteran, is plagued with memories of the war and of his friend who never returned.

Weaving a multitude of voices and eras into one, dressed in the most beautiful of language, Mrs Dalloway has earned its reputation as one of the most iconic novels of the twentieth century and great successes of Modernist fiction.

CURRENTLY READING

FACES ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE by EMMANUELLE PAGANO

HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA @renardpress @ReshmaRuia #BookReview

Hello! Delighted to be with you today as part of the wonderful Blog Tour for the equally wonderful STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA.  My thanks to the author and the team at Renard Press for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The glow of my cigarette picks out a dark shape lying on the ground. I bend down to take a closer look. It’s a dead sparrow. I wondered if I had become that bird, disoriented and lost.

Young, handsome and contemptuous of his father’s traditional ways, PK Malik leaves Bombay to start a new life in America. Stopping in Manchester to visit an old friend, he thinks he sees a business opportunity, and decides to stay on. Now fifty-five, PK has fallen out of love with life. His business is struggling and his wife Geeta is lonely, pining for the India she’s left behind.

One day PK crosses the path of Esther, the wife of his business competitor, and they launch into an affair conducted in shabby hotel rooms, with the fear of discovery forever hanging in the air. Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity.

Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reshma Ruia is an award-winning author and poet. Her first novel was described in the Sunday Times as ‘a gem of straight-faced comedy’. She has published a poetry collection and a short story collection; her work has appeared in international anthologies and journals, and she has had work commissioned by the BBC. She is the co-founder of The Whole Kahani – a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Born in India and brought up in Rome, her writing explores the preoccupations of those who possess a multiple sense of belonging.

MY REVIEW

I found this to be an emotional, often gut wrenching, story that looks at the impact of decisions you make and the impact they have on you and those around you – with often devastating consequences.  It’s one of those books that you get so caught up in from the beginning and it’s tough to let the characters go when the final page arrives.  I’m still thinking about them now!!

PK is a man out to live life ‘his’ way and not his fathers way.  And that journey takes him from India to Manchester where he finds himself living a life he doesn’t know he wants anymore.  Business brought him success, a wife and family, but he’s reached that age where he doesn’t know what is next and nothing excites him… until he meets the wife of a rival and that ignites his passion again.

Told from the perspective of PK you really get inside his mind, and what also works so well are the letters we get to read written by his wife – seeing life from her viewpoint really adds to the drama and reality of it all.  She notices the changes in her husband but she finds it easier to discuss things in a letter with someone else, than to confront her husband and talk over their problems.  You really get that head in the sand feeling about their relationship and despite the unhappiness they are unwilling to sit down and talk things over.

The story really takes you on a real emotional rollercoaster and that is down to how well the characters are written and developed along the way.  Showing the frailty of human behaviours and how things can change so quickly allows you to connect on a personal level  as they ponder the same questions we all do in life.  

A story that packs a real punch – loved it!!

★★★★★

#GuestPost A VACANCY FOR A VILLAGE VET by JOANNE BODEN #Extract #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @JoBodenAuthor

Hello!! Welcome to Books and Me!  And today I have the pleasure of sharing an exclusive extract with you to help celebrate Publication Day for the fabulous A VACANCY FOR A VILLAGE VET by JOANNE BODEN.   The link to grab your copy is posted below too so treat yourself!! You won’t regret it!!

Release Day Extract: A Vacancy for a Village Vet by Joanne Boden 

A Vacancy for a Village Vet is a cosy new contemporary romance from Joanne Boden – a book about second chances, making peace with your past and plenty of pets, of course! To celebrate publication day, we thought we’d share an exclusive extract from the very beginning of the book – kindly hosted by Karen on her blog – where everything is about to change for Daniel and Hannah … 

‘You’ll come back, won’t you?’  

Daniel pulled Hannah towards him and closed his eyes. He couldn’t look at her, couldn’t bear to look into those smokey grey eyes and see nothing but sadness and hurt. He inhaled her strawberry shampoo, felt her breath on his neck. She couldn’t see his face. He wouldn’t cause her pain by allowing her to see the lie that lay beneath the surface.  

‘I’ll be back,’ he said, unable now to stop those words, his throat tight and dry. He stroked her flyaway blonde waves that could never be tamed and rested his hand on the back of her head.  

‘And you’ll write to me every day?’ she asked.  

He heard the uncertainty in the shaking of her words. Her hands now clung to his , nails digging into his skin. 

He wanted to slow time. To stay in this moment forever. They’d agreed to write proper letters, not quick texts or emails, although of course they could. “Handwritten letters are much more romantic” she said. They reminded her of the olden days. Of “Elizabeth and Mr Darcy”.  

‘I’ll write to you,’ he said. His fingers twisted in her hair. 

He wanted to believe that he would. 

A car horn sounded. His mother popped her head out of the half-lowered window, followed by a plume of cigarette smoke. ‘Daniel,’ she hollered, ‘we need to get going.’  

He exhaled slowly, felt Hannah’s shoulders relax slip away from him as she stepped back. She swiped a finger across her eyes. A smear of black mascara followed in its wake. She gave him a slow, sad smile. 

He reclosed the gap between them and hisis fingers traced her cheekbones as he dipped his head to give her one last, tender kiss on the lips.  

Eyes were on them. He wished with every breath in his body that they were alone. 

“You’re only kids”, his mum had told him, when she announced she’d be moving to London with her shiny new husband, although none of this was David Brewer’s fault. Daniel liked him. He hadn’t pretended to be a substitute father. After all, he had a grandfather for that. David had made that perfectly clear.  

But they were all wrong. Yes, he was only fifteen, nearly sixteen, but he knew his own mind and heart, knew what he felt in his bones and blood and muscles. And he loved Hannah. His mother had laughed when he shared that bit of news with her, his cheeks flaming and his heart pounding with this shared intimacy. “You’ll fall in love a dozen times – it’s part of growing up.” And then more forcefully when he’d told her Hannah was important to him – “You don’t know what love is at your age!” when he’d told her Hannah was important to him.  

She told him with a faraway look in her eyes that she had fallen in love at sixteen, and look where that had landed her – almost as an afterthought she’d quickly added she wouldn’t have changed having him for the world. But he’d seen the stark truth in those words. She’d have changed things in a heartbeat. Back then at least, maybe not now. That boy she had loved was long gone, married twice since then, and with four kids to his name, not including Daniel. He had never been a part of his life. 

“Stay or go” his mother told him, giving him a choice. The decision was his, and his alone. Go to London, or stay here in Middlefern with Gerald. “It’s up to you. You’re nearly sixteen, old enough to make up your own mind”. But apparently not old enough to know if he was in love with a girl he had loved all of his short life. 

There was no choice. There had never been a choice. 

He couldn’t stay in Middlefern, not under the same roof as Gerald. He’d briefly toyed with the idea of asking Kathy, Hannah’s mum, if he could stay with them, but that, he knew, would only lead to more questions, none of which he could answer. The main one being, why couldn’t he stay with Gerald? 

If he left he knew he could never come back, not while Gerald lived and worked in the village. He could never return.  

So he did what he had to do. He lied and told Hannah he would do all of those things. His final act of kindness before breaking her heart. 

‘It’s time to go, son.’ Gerald stood on the threshold to his veterinary practice, arms folded across his broad chest, a slight sneer spread across his face. Daniel’s hands curled into tight fists. He refused to turn around. He would not look at him. He’d never have to look at him again.  

Gerald sauntered past them and stopped at the side of the car. He peered in through the passenger window. ‘You got everything, Samantha?’ he asked. 

She nodded. ‘Yes, and thank you, for everything.’ 

‘Take care of yourself, and phone me when you get there.’ 

Gerald opened the passenger door. ‘Time to go now, son,’ he shouted in Daniel’s direction. 

Daniel’s jaw tensed as he reached for Hannah’s hand. ‘I’ll write soon,’ he said. Another lie. 

‘Promise.’ 

‘Promise.’ He very nearly choked on the word. His final act of betrayal. 

He turned to go, but she grabbed his arm and pressed something cold and hard into the palm of his hand.  

‘Don’t look now,’ she whispered. ‘Look later, in the car.’ 

He nodded, unable to formulate any words.  

He turned towards the car, averting his eyes so he wouldn’t see Gerald. 

Kathy placed her arm around her daughter’s shoulder. The two of them like statues, silently watching him go.  

‘Bye, son,’ Gerald said as he grabbed Daniel’s arm, forcing him to stop. 

Daniel looked at his shoes, taking solace in this small victory. 

‘Look after your mum for me,’ Gerald growled. 

Daniel shook his arm free and unfolded his long, lean body into the car. He shut the door without turning to face the old man. Instead he looked at his mother. 

‘Ready love?’ she asked. 

‘Yeah.’ 

‘She’ll be okay, you know. So will you.’ 

‘I hope so,’ he said. He had a chance at a brand new start. Away from Middlefern and away from him. He just wished Hannah could be a part of that new start. Maybe in time she could join him. Travel to London. She could go to university there, as they’d planned. Maybe they could buy a flat. Move in together. It was possible. Anything was possible, wasn’t it? 

But even as he had these fleeting thoughts he knew it was a fantasy.  

This was the end. 

Time to move on.  

He would forget and so would she. Given time. 

The car pulled away from the kerbside. 

Hannah lifted a hand to wave, but it slowly dropped as she hugged her arms around her body. He saw Kathy raise her hand to stroke her daughter’s hair. The image became smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. He observed the whispering of words that he could not hear. 

His fingers unfurled and in his palm he found half a heart. A locket made of sterling silver. He turned it over. There was no engraving, just smooth metal, the size of a ten pence piece. It took several seconds before it hit him like a punch to the gut. He had half, Hannah the other. Two halves of one heart, forever broken. 

From: A Vacancy for a Village Vet by Joanne Boden 

© Joanne Boden 

About the Book: 

From big city high-flyer to little village vet … 

Hannah and Daniel were teenage sweethearts, but then Daniel left their sleepy village of Middlefern and his grandfather’s veterinary practice behind for the bright lights of London. 

Now, fifteen years later, the prodigal grandson has returned to temporarily take over the village practice with a veterinary qualification and his dog, Sammy, in tow. Daniel is ready for rabbits with tummy aches, guinea pigs who’ve lost their squeak, plenty of cow complaints and a whole lot of memories – both good and bad. But is he ready to see Hannah again? 

Of course, a high-flying city vet like Daniel was never planning to stay in Middlefern for good – especially given his history with the place. But could another, even more important, vacancy convince him to change his mind?

Buying links: 


Kindle: https://amzn.to/3xTZ2eT  

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3tH4Wyv 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3vqlJqF  

Nook: https://bit.ly/3y2bM4O  

About the Author: 



Joanne lives in Lancashire with her husband and their two sons. When she is not busy writing, she likes to take her boys to the local museums, cafes and for walks in the countryside. Joanne has published 4 non-fiction works aimed at parenting children on the Autistic spectrum, based upon her experiences as a mother of an autistic son.  

Joanne also writes contemporary romances with gorgeous heroes. 

Find out more about Joanne here: 

https://www.facebook.com/JoBodenAuthor

#BookReview SUNDIAL by CATRIONA WARD #Sundial

ABOUT THE BOOK

You can’t escape the desert. You can’t escape Sundial.

Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because she fears what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

From the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street comes a stunning thriller exploring the toxicity of the mother-daughter bond, and the power of the past to twist the present.

PUBLISHED BY VIPER BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s – signed edition

MY REVIEW

The Queen of tension, darkness and horror is back! And I loved every single minute of it – even if it did take me down some very dark paths! I’m not easily shocked but this book had those moments that leave you gasping! And wondering where the flip the story would lead you to next!!

At the heart of the story is a family where all is not well. Mum, Dad and 2 daughters and the exploration of family dynamics within that group. It also looks into the past of the characters so you can see where some of their irrational behaviour comes from. The parents came from unstable backgrounds and that childlike approach becomes only too clear in the way they can be so cruel to their children. Rob sees something in the girls, Callie especially, that scares her so takes her on a trip to the Mojave desert and all becomes clearer why as we see it’s where Rob grew up and had things in her own childhood to deal with.

It’s a story that is meant to make you feel uneasy!! There are some very dark subjects explored and through the characters you get to see things from different perspectives and feel just how toxic a situation can become from past traumas. It’s a wonderful exploration into the different sides of people and what they can be hiding and how it all comes out in the end, no matter how hard they try to escape it.

The pace is wonderful – it builds up slowly and then bursts into life with revelations galore. It is disturbing but that just made it even more exciting for me. The author wasn’t too scared to push a few boundaries and explore the darker side of life and how personalities are formed and acted upon. Loved it!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE MARTINS by DAVID FOENKINOS #TheMartins

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Go out into the street and the first person you see will be the subject of your next book.’

This is the challenge a struggling Parisian writer sets himself, imagining his next heroine might be the mysterious young woman who often stands smoking near his apartment … instead it’s octogenarian Madeleine. She’s happy to become the subject of his book – but first she needs to put away her shopping.

Is it really true, the writer wonders, that every life is the stuff of novels, or is his story doomed to be hopelessly banal? As he gets to know Madeleine and her family, he’ll be privy to their secrets: lost loves, marital problems and workplace worries. And he’ll soon realise he is not the impartial bystander he intended to be, but a catalyst for major changes in the lives of his characters.

Told with Foenkinos’s characteristic irony and self-deprecating humour, yet filled with warmth, The Martins is a compelling tale of the family next door which raises questions about what it means to be ‘ordinary’, and about the blurred lines between truth and fiction.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

Belgravia Books

MY REVIEW

Just how does a writer struggling for inspiration solve the problem?! In this book, the Parisian writer pledges to write about the first person he sees in the street, secretly hoping it’s the mysterious young neighbour he’s not managed to speak to yet….. but the universe makes him cross paths with Madeleine instead! An octogenarian whose most pressing thought is she needs to put her shopping away!!

And what follows is something that he, and you as the reader, doesn’t really expect. Under the spotlight, this woman who could have easily been an invisible person to the rest of the world, sees this as an opportunity to open up and reveal family secrets and tell her story – one that probably not many, if any, would think worth telling. But the more he delves, and the more her family get involved in the project he becomes privy to some astonishing tales and confessions. Far from the dull project he imagined when he first meets Madeleine and imagines her life to be somewhat underwhelming…… appearances can be very deceptive!

It really shows the beauty of connecting with people and both sides getting something out of a friendship – he almost becomes therapist to this family, and they in return allow him to evaluate his own life and connections with family and friends. It becomes very cathartic for all involved allowing for humour and much more touching revelations.

It is a story of reconnecting, regrets, rifts and romance and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author approached the way of storytelling and the impact of opening up to others allows them all to take stock and take action in their lives.

★★★★

My thanks to the team at Gallic Books for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 18th June 2022

Hello and Happy Saturday!  Scorchio here in Essex this past week, so that has meant more reading time for me so back to finishing 5 books this week which has made me happy.. has it made the TBR mountain look any smaller?! Of course not!! But only 1 new addition to that this week and none for Netgalley so progress is being made!! Slowly but surely!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

THE DANCE TREE by KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE (audiobook) – 4 STARS

BLUE HOUR by SARAH SCHMIDT – 5 STARS

THE MARTINS by DAVID FOENKINOS – 5 STARS

BLONDE by JOYCE CAROL OATES – 6 STARS!

HOW TO MAKE A WILDFLOWER MEADOW by JAMES HEWETSON-BROWN – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL

My June book from Goldsboro Book subscription arrived…


THE SECOND SIGHT OF ZACHARY CLOUDESLEY by SEAN LUSK


In 1754, renowned maker of clocks and automata Abel Cloudesley must raise his new-born son Zachary when his wife dies in childbirth.Growing up amongst the cogs and springs of his father’s workshop, Zachary is intensely curious, ferociously intelligent, unwittingly funny and always honest – perhaps too honest. But when a fateful accident leaves six-year-old Zachary nearly blinded, Abel is convinced that the safest place for his son is in the care of his eccentric Aunt Frances and her menagerie of weird and wonderful animals.So when a precarious job in Constantinople is offered to him, Abel has no reason to say no. A job presented to him by a politician with dubious intentions, Abel leaves his son, his workshop and London behind. The decision will change the course of his life forever.

Since his accident, Zachary is plagued by visions that reveal the hearts and minds of those around him. A gift at times and a curse at others, it is nonetheless these visions that will help him complete a journey that he was always destined to make – to travel across Europe to Constantinople and find out what happened to his father all those years ago.

With a Dickensian cast of characters that are brilliantly bonkers one moment and poignant the next, Sean Lusk’s debut will take readers on an immersive journey into the wonders of the world of Zachary Cloudesley.

CURRENTLY READING


THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR by NINA DE GRAMONT (AUDIOBOOK)



HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview HOW TO MAKE A WILDFLOWER MEADOW by JAMES HEWETSON-BROWN @filbertpress

ABOUT THE BOOK

Flowering meadows are appealing to gardeners and valuable for wildlife, but they can be difficult to establish. This book will change all that with its pragmatic yet eco-friendly advice. Gardeners and landscape professionals alike will relish James Hewetson-Brown’s common sense approach. There is no need to be an expert on habitat planting or plant ecology—just follow the step-by-step techniques. Using seed, plug plants, bulbs, and roll-out turf, you can establish meadow the same year you plant it. The book includes 30 case studies that describe successful meadow plantings alongside paths, utility areas, and ponds and in mixed borders, orchards, green roofs, sloping banks, and containers. Interviews offer a fascinating insight into the the installation process and the pleasures of living with a wildflower meadow.

PUBLISHED BY FILBERT PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is a book packed full of great advice, and bright clear photos, to set you on the path of creating your own wildflower meadow, no matter how big or small the size of your plot is! And with wildflower meadows in decline we all need to do our bit, and this is the book to inspire you to create our own little patch of wildflower heaven!

This book takes you through step by step on the different processes that can be used to create a meadow from scratch – be that seeds, plugs, turf – and no matter what situation you have, there are tips to guide you through and make the right decision for a successful wildflower meadow creation!

It also delves in to the history, the benefits for wildlife, how to maintain and solve problems and I was also impressed with the case studies which featured meadows in various locations – green roofs, by the side of roads, modern, woodland – to name but a few – and featuring photos to show the before and after and help you through the design process.

Thank you to Filbert Press for my copy in return for a honest review.

★★★★★

#20BooksOfSummer2022 BLONDE by JOYCE CAROL OATES

What a way for me to start off my 20 Books Journey!!  It was worth the effort and all 939 pages were a masterpiece!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Who was Norma Jeane Baker?

In ‘Blonde’ we are given an intimate, unsparing vision of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe like no other: the child who visits the cinema with her mother; the orphan whose mother is declared mad; the woman who changes her name to become an actress; the fated celebrity, lover, comedienne, muse and icon. Joyce Carol Oates tells an epic American story of how a fragile, gifted young woman makes and remakes her identity, surviving against crushing odds, perpetually in conflict and intensely driven. Here is the very essence of the individual hungry and needy for love: from an elusive mother; from a mysterious, distant father and from a succession of lovers and husbands. Joyce Carol Oates sympathetically explores the inner life of the woman destined to become Hollywood’s most compelling legend. ‘Blonde’ is a brilliant and deeply moving portrait of a culture hypnotised by its own myths and the shattering reality of the personal effects it had on the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

MY REVIEW

This is book 1 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

Wow! Wow! Wow!! I knew I was in for an epic read but I didn’t think it was going to consume me in the way that it did! I love Marilyn, and have read numerous non fiction books about it, so was unsure how to feel about this ‘novel’, but Joyce Carol Oates has worked her magic in an extraordinary way! Blending fact with fiction and taking you behind the legend that Marilyn became, and showing you the real person – the sadness and the tragedy behind this woman who was always searching for a feeling of contentment and peace, even from an early age, but finding herself being used.

The novel portrays her as extremely fragile, looking for happiness from her childhood through to adulthood and how her career gave her momentary glimpses of how wonderful life could be, alongside the dismal reality of how men in her life couldn’t cope with her fame and wanted control over her. I just wanted to time travel and go back and give her a big hug!! She craved stability and acceptance and over the 900+ pages we saw how that need was there throughout her life.

If I could give this book 6 stars I would! Just amazing!!

★★★★★

MY BOOKISH WEEKLY WRAP UP – 11TH JUNE 2022

Hello all! Happy Saturday!  

All quiet on the reading front here which is NOT good for my TBR mountain or my reading challenges!!  This past week I’ve managed to finish just 1 book, and I’m beginning to regret starting my #20BooksOfSummer2022 with a 738 page book as it’s slowed my reading pace right down!!  So at least I won’t be keeping you long with this post today – I’ve even avoided Netgalley and bought 0 books!! So there’s my positive lol!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

ACTS OF LOVE AND WAR by MAGGIE BROOKES

BOOKHAUL

ZERO!!

CURRENTLY READING

THE MARTINS by DAVID FOENKINOS

HAPPY READING!!