The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel – book review

THE BLURB

From the Winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015

Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the last twenty years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life.

Written in exquisite prose, The Running Hare tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. It recalls an era before open-roofed factories and silent, empty fields, recording the ongoing destruction of the unique, fragile, glorious ploughland that exists just down the village lane.

But it is also the story of ploughland through the eyes of man who took on a field and husbanded it in a natural, traditional way, restoring its fertility and wildlife, bringing back the old farmland flowers and animals. John Lewis Stempel demonstrates thta it is still possible to create a place where the hare can rest safe.

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was a fascinating and delightful read of one mans’ vision and journey in reclaiming some farmland to return it to the ways of old, along with the wildlife and wildflowers that this brings along with it.

It is beautifully written with such passion that it often made me angry – not at the book but at the way mankind looks at nature nowadays, just trying to find the easiest and quickest way of producing things, without any thought to the damage that does in the long term. We seem to have forgotten to embrace nature that has sustained humanity since the year dot and then wonder why wildlife and wildflowers are disappearing at astonishingly high rates.

There’s a wide variety of wildlife featured, alongside old farming techniques and wonderful background history and information in many forms. 

It was horrifying reading at times with lists of plants lost to the British countryside thanks to different farming techniques, but also heartwarming to see how just one man full of determination proved that by going back to the old techniques he could show that it wouldn’t take much to reintroduce the balance back into fields across the country – it just takes some effort!

I’d highly recommend this as a book to read for all as it is a fascinating insight into nature and the modern world and it is a lesson that needs to be learned before it is too late!

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee – book review

THE BLURB

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Paperback, 294 pages
 
Expected publication: July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a fascinatingly creepy story based around a family who seem to be suffering from a long standing curse -and there is no way of escaping it. It’s a really well written story looking at a family who suffer through grief and the horrors of life.  It cleverly mixes the normality of life with the bizarre!

The Perkins family are the family in question, and when Ian and wife Rachel move into his childhood home they seem to have it all, but the strange noises and happenings start up and life begins to fall apart for them both.  Ian tries to research his family history to uncover more of the ‘curse’ but it soon becomes an obsession for him and he seems to lose all grip on reality. 

We also get a glimpse into the childhood of Ian and the ‘strange accidents’ that seem to befall certain members of the family and how it affects the dynamics of the family members.  Even as children they pick up on the strange atmospheres around them.

Throughout the book you get a really unsettling feeling as you watch from the sidelines and it is all nicely paced and not over the top and that keeps drawing you in to a chilling ending.  Highly recommended!

Thankyou to the team at Hideaway Fall for the fab ARC copy in return for a fair and honest review – their work at promoting this book was one of the best campaigns I’ve ever seen and was very grateful to be part of it all!

Weekly Bookish Wrap Up!

The sun has got its’ hat on… hip hip hip hooray!!!  Anyone else moaning that it is too hot already?! Never happy are we!!   Still, the sunshine is doing wonders for my garden and also making me conserve energy by sitting down and reading more! And that is NEVER a bad thing!  So it has been a pretty successful reading week again and according to my GoodReads challenge I have now completed 79 books already this year – now ask me to tell you about them all and I can’t LOL!! Memory recall is not my strongest point so I am very grateful for this blog and GoodReads for at least trying to help jog my memory at times when I need to recall a book! How did we ever cope without it?!

BOOKS FINISHED

A good total of 4 books fnished this week so click on the title if you would like to read my GoodReads review!

This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss

As original as One Day and as heartbreaking as Me Before You, This Last Kiss is the perfect emotional and romantic read.

Rora Raine is finally coming home to Hastings, twelve years after she left her grief-stricken father, and fled the love of her life, Carl.

Struggling to support her bright but troubled daughter, Rora has convinced herself she’ll never love again.

When she meets a bumblingly charming stranger, Rora’s heart begins to thaw.

But, try as she might, she can’t run from true love forever.

Funny, warm-hearted and soaringly romantic, This Last Kiss is the redemptive story of two star-crossed lovers, told through each and every kiss they share

The Cafe in Fir Tree Park by Katey Lovell

Maggie’s café is at the very heart of Fir Tree Park. Business is booming, her lemon drizzle is the stuff of legend, her children are happy and life is good. But she hasn’t had it easy. When her husband Clint was sent to prison, she had to raise Josh and Kelly alone. But Clint can’t hurt them now, and there’s no denying that Paolo, the Italian football coach she spies every weekend out on the green, is more than easy on the eye.

It may be summer outside, but a new arrival in Fir Tree Park sends an icy chill through the café…

Summer at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot

 

The third book in the bestselling series, ‘The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’.

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!

Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?

My Summer of Magic Moments by Caroline Roberts

 

When a seaside escape spells a little romance . . .

A heartwarming tale that will sweep you away for the summer from the bestselling author of The Cosy Teashop in the Castle.

When Claire arrives for her cosy cottage retreat on the beautiful Northumberland coast, she prays that three weeks of blissful peace and summer sunshine will wash away the pain of the last year.

Claire’s a survivor – she’s proud of the scars that prove it – and she’s determined to make the most of each and every day, to seize those little magic moments that give life its colour.

Her plan for peaceful solitude goes awry when handsome, brooding Ed turns up in the cottage next door. The last thing Claire needs is the risk of getting hurt, but she soon discovers that Ed has emotional battle scars of his own.

Will he prove the worst distraction? Or might he be just the perfect remedy?

The sunshine may have made my brain a little romantic with my reading choices this week!! And still I’m waiting for Brad Pitt to swoop in and save me from all of this….. a girl can dream i guess!!

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR MOUNTAIN!!

For the most part of the week I behaved myself!!  Hard to believe that I was being so controlled and thoughtful in my purchases of books – well that was until Thursday when I ventured in to a couple of charity shops that I’d not been in for a while – big mistake!!

 

But how could I resist?! Especially with the gorgeous orange penguin covers calling my name as I’ve recently started to see how many I can amass! This pile of 4 cost me £3 so i HAD to have them!!  And only 99p for His Bloody Project of which I have heard many good things – anyone read it? – so that was adopted by my good self too!

And then there was the bookpost which is always a wonderous thing!  I received The Mayfly by James Hazel from the fabulous Readers First people and this sounds super creepy and dark so right up my street!

It’s happening again.


A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

Charlie Priest, ex-detective inspector turned London lawyer, is hired by influential entrepreneur Kenneth Ellinder to investigate the murder of his son. But Priest is no ordinary lawyer. Brilliant, yet flawed, this case will push him, and those closest to him, to the edge.

Priest traces the evidence back to the desperate last days of the Second World War. Buried in the ashes of the Holocaust is a secret so deadly its poison threatens to destroy the very heart of the establishment.
With more victims going missing, Priest realises that not everyone should be trusted. As he races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

And then there is Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee which I received today from the equally lovely Hideaway Fall folk, which is all about a family curse and sounds wonderfully intriguing! 

 

Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

CURRENTLY READING

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

The Running Hare by John-Lewis Stempel

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

am listening to this via audiobook that I borrowed via the Borrowbox app from my library!

And another week is all nicely wrapped up! Any books amongst these that you’ve read? Or has grabbed your interest?!  Always interested to hear what is on your current reading pile so please share!!

HAPPY READING!!

‘A delightful heart-warming read…made me want to visit the cafe right now, meet everyone and share Maggie’s delicious cakes’ Phillipa Ashley, author of the bestselling Summer at the Cornish Cafe

 

Maggie’s café is at the very heart of Fir Tree Park. Business is booming, her lemon drizzle is the stuff of legend, her children are happy and life is good. But she hasn’t had it easy. When her husband Clint was sent to prison, she had to raise Josh and Kelly alone. But Clint can’t hurt them now, and there’s no denying that Paolo, the Italian football coach she spies every weekend out on the green, is more than easy on the eye.

It may be summer outside, but a new arrival in Fir Tree Park sends an icy chill through the café…

‘Warm-hearted and utterly lovely’ Sunday Times bestseller Miranda Dickinson

Publication Date – 26th May 2017
Harper Impulse

 

 

MY REVIEW

 

Add a cafe and a park to a book title and you have my interest! And this became a pleasant surprise as it turned out to be a little more than just the run of the mill light reads often associated with cafe settings, and developed into quite a moving look at a community, family and friends that revolves around life in the cafe.

It is told from a number of perspectives, which did get a little confusing, but I did enjoy all the separate strands that were nicely woven together throughout.

Maggie runs the cafe so is always baking the most delicious cakes, and has two grown up children Josh and Kelly. And Fern who works in the Cafe is also friends with Kelly from school. Pearl is a widow is often in the Cafe to help out when needed and has her own secrets that she is beginning to tire of keeping to herself. And we also meet Lacey as she starts training for a half marathon in aid of charity by running round the park, and finds the unlikeliest of training partners to help her. Ooh and it helped that one of the characters childhood crush was Matt Goss from Bros!! What good taste she has!! That is all it takes to win me over to a characters’ side!!

As we follow their individual and shared stories we get to see the women facing their fears, confronting the past and embracing their futures. Set in the most idyllic location it features some very endearing characters – ooh and cake! Lots of lovely cake!! A very enjoyable read!!

Thank you to Harper Impulse for an advanced copy of this in return for a fair and honest review.

Summer at the Little Wedding shop by Jane Linfoot – book review

THE BLURB

The third book in the bestselling series, ‘The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’.

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!

Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?

‘A sparkling, laugh-out-loud, romantic read’ Phillipa Ashley, bestselling author of Summer at the Cornish Cafe

‘The perfect holiday read to warm your heart’ #1 Bestselling author Tracy Bloom

‘Funny and big-hearted, I was enchanted by Lily and her friends’ Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman

‘A pure delight…fabulous, fun and unforgettable’ – Debbie Johnson, bestselling author of ‘Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe’

Harper Impulse

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

Having been a huge fan of the first in this series – The Little Wedding Shop – I was eager to return to ‘Brides By The Sea’ but this could be read as a standalone. I’m just shocked at myself for not having read the second in the series – Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop – and will be rectifying this fact sooner rather than later!

In this book we follow the story of Lily. She had left the shop, where she had worked as a florist, to move to Bath with her husband, but she soon returns when her dream life doesn’t quite pan out. So she is down on love, down on marriage and probably not the best person to invite back to the shop around Valentines’ Day!!

She is offered a new job with her friends at the shop as the wedding stylist and with a busy season ahead of them again, including the wedding of her mother, all doesn’t run smoothly. Added to the mix is the new wedding venue business in the neighbourhood run by clueless Kip Penryn, and he soon enlists the experts from ‘Brides By The Sea’ to help his business succeed and they are torn whether to help him or hinder him!!

It doesn’t take long for you to be all for Lily in her plight in moving on from the past, which isn’t so easy as she is made to confront all she remembers of her Dad since he passed, and how her mum is definitely moving on – but for the right reasons?

Another fabulous look at the lovely characters we have met previously, and the new characters add a little something different and fun to the mix that made this such a pleasing and fun read! So whether you are returning to the shop after enjoying the previous stories, or looking to discover a new fab read then look no further!!

 
Thank you to the publishers Harper Impulse for the advanced reading e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Bookish Weekly Wrap Up!

Greetings fellow Book Dragons – or are you of the bookworm variety?!  I quite like the idea of being a book penguin! No reason other than I just love penguins!!

Another week has flown by and what started as a good week has ended poorly on the health front for me – I have M.E so it is a very fluctuating illness – so if I ramble today and make very little sense then please excuse my foggy brain!!

Hope you have all had a productive week bookish wise! Been quite good here so here’s a peek at what I’ve been reading, some bookpost and what I’m currently reading….

BOOKS I’VE FINISHED

3 Books started and finished this week, and all 5 star reads!! Now that is what I call successful! Please click on the book title for a link to my GoodReads review if you want to know more about each title!

Debris by Chris Parker

The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

 

BOOKPOST

I am still managing to walk into bookshops and charity shops, and browse online without actually buying anything!! There is plenty of temptation but I seem to have developed a conscience that reminds me of the TBR mountain dotted around the house and that I shouldn’t add to it…. well, just yet anyway!

But I did receive this lovely bookpost from the lovely people at Picador Books – paperback to be released on the 1st June 2017

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey. Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer. But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.

CURRENTLY READING

The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel

From the Winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015

Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the last twenty years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life.

Written in exquisite prose, The Running Hare tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. It recalls an era before open-roofed factories and silent, empty fields, recording the ongoing destruction of the unique, fragile, glorious ploughland that exists just down the village lane.

But it is also the story of ploughland through the eyes of man who took on a field and husbanded it in a natural, traditional way, restoring its fertility and wildlife, bringing back the old farmland flowers and animals. John Lewis Stempel demonstrates thta it is still possible to create a place where the hare can rest safe

THIS LAST KISS BY MADELEINE REISS

As original as One Day and as heartbreaking as Me Before You, This Last Kiss is the perfect emotional and romantic read.

Rora Raine is finally coming home to Hastings, twelve years after she left her grief-stricken father, and fled the love of her life, Carl.

Struggling to support her bright but troubled daughter, Rora has convinced herself she’ll never love again.

When she meets a bumblingly charming stranger, Rora’s heart begins to thaw.

But, try as she might, she can’t run from true love forever.

Funny, warm-hearted and soaringly romantic, This Last Kiss is the redemptive story of two star-crossed lovers, told through each and every kiss they share.

And there we have it!  And now it’s the weekend so I wish you many hours of quality reading time ahead!!

HAPPY READING!!

Book Subscription Services – May treats!

 I know you will all agree that there is nothing better than a day which brings ‘bookpost’ your way! Whether it be a lovely ARC copy sent by a publisher, some books that you’ve ordered yourself – because you deserved it!! – or one of the lovely Book Subscription services boxes arriving each month/bi-monthly – it is a day worth celebrating!  Although maybe at times your local Postman is cursing your name everytime he has to stop by!!

Well, today was a double treat day and much needed as I’ve been feeling pretty poorly, as both my Moth Box parcel arrived, along with my Bookishly monthly ‘tea and book’ subscription parcel!!  A simple way to put a smile on my face – it doesn’t take much does it!!

So I thought I’d share what goodies I’ve got along with links to the sites in case you are tempted to take a peek for yourself and treat yourself!!!  You know you want to…… 😉

MOTHBOX

This is a fairly recent addition to the Book Subscription market and is run by the lovely Mercedes – book vlogger on Youtube, and can also be found on Twitter at @MercysMusings.  She knows her books and this is a great service of finding lesser known books from independant publishers and I’m yet to have a box from her that I haven’t enjoyed!  It is normally sent out every 2 months but I’m not sure if she is looking to change this as it has proved so popular.  Check out the website at MothBoxBooks for  more information as I can highly recommed it as a great treat for all bookish folk!

 

 

The 2 books arrived beatifully packaged with free bookmarks that have a quote relating to the books inside on each which is a lovely touch.

 And the May books were these two….

Star-Shot by Mary-ann Constantine

Part fable, part mystery, Star-Shot is a stylish debut novel set in and around Cardiff’s National Museum in a time that is almost, but not quite, our own. As their paths cross in a circumscribed world of benches, parks and galleries, a handful of characters reveal their stories of obsession, loss and recovery, creating a fragile network of relationships which will help to resist the inexorable channels of silence eating into the city.

A brittle young woman sits on a bench in Gorsedd park, conscious of the powerful building behind her; a tall man carries a box full of a strange organic substance up the entrance steps; a young father explains the formation of stars to his tiny son. As university researchers try to map and understand the destructive silence snaking around them, it becomes clear that the linked lives of these and other marginal characters offer ways of countering its effects. Poignant and humorous, Star-Shot is an exploration of how objects and images can focus our grief and desire; it is also a meditation on the regenerative power of garden ponds, and the cosmic significance of frogs.

Beautifully illustrated with woodcut-style motifs by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, this is a subtle urban novel with a supernatural twist.

Ties by Domenico Starnone

 

Luminously translated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, Ties is the searing new novel by bestselling Italian novelist Domenico Starnone.

Ties is the story of a marriage. Like many marriages, this one has been subject to strain, to attrition, to the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in Vanda and Aldo’s marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. Their marriage is a cracked vase that may shatter at the slightest touch. Or perhaps it has already shattered, and nobody is willing to acknowledge the fact.

Domenico Starnone’s thirteenth work of fiction is a powerful short novel about relationships, family, love, and the ineluctable consequences of one’s actions. Known as a consummate stylist and beloved as a talented storyteller, Domenico Starnone is the winner of Italy’s most prestigious literary award The Strega.

Winner of The Bridge Prize for Best Novel 2015

BOOKISHLY

And then there is Bookishly!  I’m a recent convert to their Tea and Book Club, where they send you a different variety of tea each month alongside a fabulous vintage book and some rather gorgeous stationery which includes cards, bookmarks, notebooks etc…. Now what bookish fan doesn’t love the mix of books, tea and stationery??!! 

They also run a Coffee and Book Club for those of you who aren’t a fan of Tea – what is wrong with you people?! – and they also have an amazing website full of wonderful book related gifts that are well worth checking out if you are looking to find a present that is a little something different than you’d find in a shop!

This months parcel included some rather gorgeous sounding  Sunshine Orange Rooibos Tea, a gorgeous Peter Pan quote bookmark, 2 lovely greetings card and a Penguin copy of The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc.

Considered by Belloc himself, and by most critics, his greatest work, this classic book is the delightful story of the pilgrimage Belloc made on foot to Rome in order to fulfill a vow he had made to “…see all Europe which the Christian Faith has saved…” In his Life of Hilaire Belloc, Robert Speaight states: “More than any other book he ever wrote, The Path to Rome made Belloc’s name; more than any other, it has been lovelingly thumbed and pondered… The book is a classic, born of something far deeper than the physical experience it records.”

Do any of you subscribe to any of the book subcription services?  Do you have a favourite? Or one to avoid?! Would love to hear about anymore out there to check out!

HAPPY READING!!

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

THE BLURB

You can trust a book to keep your secret . . .

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.

Praise for Lost for Words:

‘Loveday is a compelling character, you love her in the way you love a cat who always scratches but you love it anyway . . . this book is quirky, clever and unputdownable. I really enjoyed it.’
– Katie Fforde

‘Loveday is a marvellous character and she captured my heart from the very first page . . . and her bookshop is the bookshop of readers’ dreams.’
– Julie Cohen, bestselling author of Dear Thing

‘Loveday is so spiky and likeable. I so loved Archie, Nathan and the book shop and the unfolding mystery’
– Carys Bray, author of A Song For Issy Bradley and The Museum of You

‘Burns fiercely with love and hurt. A quirky, rare and beautiful novel, one you’d be delighted to unearth in any bookshop. And Loveday Cardew is a character who leaps from the pages into our hearts.’
– Linda Green, bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed

‘It is such a beautiful read and Loveday’s voice is so compelling . . . an exquisite story that I couldn’t put down.’
– Liz Fenwick

‘Beautifully written and atmospheric. Loveday is an endearing heroine, full of attitude and fragility. The haunting story of her past is brilliantly revealed.’
– Tracy Rees, Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of Amy Snow

‘What an absolute stunner of a book. I LOVED it and cried like a motherf***er. If you care about books (or humans) read it!’
– Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee

‘This book will warm and break your heart in equal measure! Loveday Cardew is funny and sassy, angry and loving, and she is running scared; she wears her scars deep within her and on the outside too. In Butland’s consummate hands, the story of Loveday’s past and her present is bravely told and is transformative. This is a must-read novel.’
– Claire Dyer, award-winning poet and author of The Perfect Affair

‘A beautiful, touching, moving, sweet treat of a book. Sad, intriguing, cleverly plotted, sometimes shocking, compelling read. I was with Loveday all the way. I absolutely loved it’
– Jane Wenham-Jones, author of Prime Time

‘Loveday is an incredible character.
Oh, the writing . . .
Vibrant, vivid, sometimes visceral;
Engaging, funny, searing.
Dares to mix prose and poetry seamlessly.
Archie had me head-over-heels in love.
You can’t help but hurt when it’s over’
– Helena Sheffield, author of The Art of Wearing Hats

‘I just finished. I can totally see why you fell in love with it. What a unique, beautiful novel that cleverly builds to a heart-stopping climax. Any book lovers out there would be mad not to adore the quirkily drawn character of Loveday who pulls you in right from the get go with her distinctive voice!’
– Tracy Buchanan, number one bestselling author of My Sister’ s Secret, The Atlas Of Us and No Turning Back

‘Wonderful. So many beautiful one-liners too!’
– Ayisha Malik, author of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

‘OH poor, brilliant Loveday. Gorgeous, gorgeous bookshop book . . . So, so lovely!’
– Sarah Franklin, author and Costa Book Awards judge

‘I loved it! Spent all day today engrossed in Loveday . . . a superbly drawn character.’
– Alex Gray, bestselling author of The Darkest Goodbye (less)

Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 20th 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre
MY REVIEW
 
 
What a treat of a story this was!  And much more than I was expecting too!  I am always drawn to books set around a bookshop and this is set in  a beautifully old fashioned bookshop full of old books and owned by Archie who is a larger than life character, but a very perceptive and caring man.  Loveday has worked at the bookshop for many years and within the shop she feels at home.  She is very wary of people and the more you read her story, the more you understand why.  So she prefers the company of books – let’s  be honest, don’t we all! 😉
The story is set over 3 separate timelines all cleverly woven together throughout, as we look into Lovedays’ childhood and see the heartbreaking things that have shaped her character and made her shut off from the world in many ways.  It also looks back to a previous relationship and how that has impacted her life while also focusing on her as she tries to move forward with the support of Archie and the safety net of the bookshop.  And mixed in with this is a little mystery of just where the box of books that turn up at the shop have come from as they transport her back to her childhood.
There was so much more to this story than I was expecting and I loved how it took me as a reader on a roller-coaster of emotions – I may have shed a few tears!  The supporting cast of characters are also beautifully created and add so much to the story of Loveday and it captured my heart as I followed her story.

cantbuy

 

Extremely delighted to be part of this Blog Tour for one of my favourite reads of recent times!! From the first line I was hooked! If you’d like to read the rest of my review then click on my GoodReads Review to find out more!

About Can’t Buy Me Love 

Is it all too good to be true?
When Willow runs into her old university crush, Luke, she’s a new woman with a new look – not to mention a little bit more cash after a rather substantial inheritance. Could she be lucky enough to score a fortune and her dream man at the same time?
Then Willow meets Cal; a computer geek with a slightly odd sense of humour. They get on like a house on fire — although she soon realises that there is far more to her unassuming new friend than meets the eye …
But money doesn’t always bring happiness, and Willow finds herself struggling to know who to trust. Are the new people in her life there because they care – or is there another reason?

Can’t Buy Me Love by Jane Lovering is now available in paperback! In this extract, Willow has just found out that she’s been bequeathed something extremely unusual in her grandfather’s Will. If you enjoy the extract and want to read more of the book, you’ll find purchasing links at the end! 

 

‘My grandfather’s left me his nose. It’s in a matchbox.’

The whole bar went quiet (except for Jazz who only goes quiet under the influence of veterinary-strength drugs) as my friends appreciated the embarrassment of my legacy.

 

‘I’d forgotten it was the day they read the will. Wondered where you were.’ Jazz came over to our table with the drinks, walking carefully in his huge platform boots. His current look was Goth, but the out-of-control hair and enormous shoes made him resemble a member of a heavy metal band training to be a funeral director. ‘I mean, I thought our Friday nights were sacred. In a purely non-religious way, obviously.’ He plonked the tray down, swirled himself onto a stool and the three of us drank in silence for a moment or two.

‘Okay, well, look at it like this.’ Katie, best friend and absolutely the person you want to have with you in any crisis, including the unexpected bequest of body parts, eventually patted my arm. ‘You’re no worse off, are you? In fact,’ she screwed up her face, attempting to put a positive spin on my bequest, ‘wasn’t it always what he called his “lucky nose”?’

She didn’t understand. I’d adored my grandfather. I’d even worked with him on some of his more outrageous inventions and stood on more wooden platforms holding electrical wires than anyone not called Igor. I had stitched, stapled, glued and on one memorable occasion even welded parts of myself into some of his contraptions in the interests of scientific advancement –and I got a nose in a matchbox? Admittedly he’d not been a rich man, but he’d promised …

‘No,’ I said sadly to Katie, whose benevolent expression was beginning to get on my nerves. ‘I’m no worse off.’

‘Might bring you luck, you never know,’ Jazz said thoughtfully to his pint. And then, appearing to think more deeply about the matter, which might have been an illusion because Jazz and Deep Thinking went together like Labradors and dinner parties, ‘it is, like, preserved, yeah? It’s not all green and runny, is it? ’Cos I’m not sure you’d want the sorta luck that came from something green and runny. Though I suppose it could be, like, you’d never get a cold again. That sort of luck.’

 

‘Shut up, Jazz.’ Katie and I spoke as one. We spent so long telling Jazz to shut up that it was an automatic response.

‘Of course it’s preserved,’ I added, defensively. Obviously I was taken aback, but I didn’t want my late grandfather to come over as completely demented. ‘He had it embalmed after it got cut off in that bandsaw accident.’

‘I’d hate to see his unlucky nose then.’

‘Jazz, you’ve really got to cultivate that little thing we talked about called tact,’ Katie said. ‘It’s no wonder you only manage to keep girlfriends for three days. Anyway, Will? Willow?’

But I was suffering from what will be, if they ever make the film of my life, an extremely expensive special effect – the whole bar had receded into darkness, and a tunnel of light was all I could see. A tunnel which began at the newly opened door to the Grape and Sprout, and ended at my feet. It was like a near-death experience, with vodka. I was aware Katie was talking, but her voice had gone far, far away. They may need to use CGI to properly replicate the whole thing.

‘Willow?’ Now Katie was shaking my arm. ‘Are you okay? You’ve gone all pale.’

‘Delayed shock,’ Jazz confidently diagnosed. ‘She needs another drink. Oh, and while you’re up, Kate, I’ll have another pint.’

‘It’s him,’ I said, indistinctly because my tongue got in the way.

Now, before I explain about ‘him’, there are a few things you should know about me, in case you’re ever the casting director when they do my life film. I’m thirty-two, never been married, never had any particularly long-lasting relationships, lived in York all my life, youngest of five kids of hippy parents (hence the name, I got off lightly, you wait until you meet my brothers and sister) and I have this … problem. Cameron Diaz could probably play me if she’s prepared to put on four stone, mostly on her bottom. She’s a bit older than me, but I was once told I looked a bit like her, although the person that said it subsequently turned out to need a cataract operation so – yeah, maybe scrub that suggestion. All right. Back to him.

‘Him?’ Thanks, Jazz. Always ready with the unnecessary link.

‘Over there. Just come in. With the two guys in suits. Don’t turn round.

Both Katie and Jazz swivelled, although at least Katie did it subtly. Jazz got his long leather coat caught in the rotating mechanism of his stool and fell over.

‘Okayyyyy,’ Katie said slowly. ‘But you have to help us on this one, Will. Who exactly is he?’

‘You’re looking at the guy in the middle, yes? The one with the cheekbones and the stubble? The one with the violet eyes?’

‘You can tell all that from back here? Bloody hell, Will, yeah. That’s the one we’re looking at.’

‘His name is Luke. We … I … we were at uni together. Surely you remember him, Katie?’

‘He does look a bit familiar.’ Katie screwed up her face again. She and I met at university, where she also met her husband, Dan, and thus never went back to her native Ireland, which was, apparently, not in need of any more English graduates, unless they were also good with cows. She was, therefore, more like an honorary sister than a friend, and when you meet my sister you’ll see why. Lovely woman, Bree, but all the emotional warmth of a packet of fishfingers, and sometimes you just need ice cream and a hug, not a chat about ‘where you went wrong’.

I gave a small cough and Jazz and Katie looked at me. They raised eyebrows at each other, exchanged one more look then picked me up bodily, hands under my armpits. Then they dragged me, feet flailing against the floor like Scooby-Doo in cartoon retreat, and dropped me outside the Sprout in time for me to be heartily sick down the nearest drain.

‘Close one, that time.’ Jazz mopped his face theatrically and rearranged his hair over the collar of his coat. ‘You’re really gonna have to get help y’know, Will.’

‘It wears off,’ I muttered indistinctly from around the large handkerchief I was wiping my mouth with. ‘It’s only the first few times.’

And there you have it. The essence of my little problem. Whenever I see a man I find halfway attractive, I start throwing up. Can’t help it. It’s happened ever since my teens. My doctor says it’s stress-related. Oddly enough, it never happens at work – although that might be because Katie and I work in a department of the local paper where the only men are moribund and/or pensionable. But it means that, of necessity, all my friends are women. If you don’t count Jazz and I’ve known him since primary school so I’m immune. Even though people tell me he’s good looking, I can’t see past the buck-toothed, toad-loving ten-year-old.

Another one of the unpleasant things about my problem is that it can give rise to misunderstandings. Following a visit to a pantomime and a case of food poisoning, I had to spend six weeks convincing Jazz and Katie that I fancied neither of the Chuckle Brothers. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how embarrassing that was.

‘Can we go back in now? It’s freezing out here.’

‘Are you sure?’ Katie raised an eyebrow. ‘I mean, it’s been a rough time for you, Will, with the funeral yesterday and all this today. Wouldn’t you rather go home?’

What, and miss the chance of ogling Luke on an empty stomach? ‘I’m fine. Honestly.’

We tried to re-enter nonchalantly, pretending we’d only popped out for a breath of air. ‘Okay then, Willow. Spill the beans,’ Jazz said, then slammed a hand over his mouth. ‘Sorry. I meant, fill us in. Details about this Luke, please, and I mean details.’ He waggled his eyebrows in a way suggestive of … well, actually just suggestive. Sometimes Jazz is such a girl. That’s why we like him.

‘There’s really not much to say. He did some kind of science degree. I used to see him now and again hanging round the Union bar. He had a job in town, in a record shop, went out with most of the girls in our year.’

‘Uh-huh. So you never went out with him?’

‘Um. No.’

‘But you wished you had?’ Sometimes, for all his comical affectations, Jazz can be quite perceptive. I was only now realising that misery had no statute of limitations on it.

‘Um.’

‘Willow.’ Katie frowned at me. ‘Is this the guy you had that enormous crush on? The one who played in that band that you made me go and see about fifty times? Used to be so skinny he made Johnny Depp look fat? That guy?’

Yes, Kate, I wanted to say. That guy. The man I lost sleep over, the man who haunted my dreams, who slid his hand down my thigh in my hottest fantasies. ‘Could be,’ was what I, in fact, said, mitigating wildly. ‘Looks a bit like him.’

‘Luke Fry.’ Katie glanced over again and clicked her fingers. ‘That’s his name. He asked me out once, you know.’

What! ‘You never told me that.’

‘Well, I knew how much you fancied him.’ The rest of the sentence went unsaid, but if it had been pronounced, it would have contained words such as ‘never even noticed you were alive’.

‘Did you go?’ Despite the churning of my stomach, I let my gaze roam over and rest on the back view of Luke Fry. He was still slim, though the scraggy body had filled out to be merely slender and, in contrast to his friends, he wore stonewashed jeans and a dark blue shirt. Flanked by the two suits, he looked like a rock star being minded by accountants.

‘Ha. Did I, hell.’ Katie turned a thoughtful gaze my way. ‘Too bloody cocky for my liking. Anyway, I had Dan.’ And that is just one of the reasons why Katie is my best friend. Oh, not for calling Luke ‘cocky’, but for turning him down. She’d always had her pick of men at uni, whilst I’d been more – ah, limited in my choices due to the whole vomit thing. Knowing that she hadn’t just upped and gone out with the man I would have sold my entire family for one night with made me love her all the more.

‘And you still do.’ Jazz tapped his watch. ‘But only for another twenty seconds if you don’t get home in a hurry. You told him you’d be back by five, remember?’

‘Oh, shit.’ With much scrabbling around under the table for coat, bag and phone, Katie prepared to leave. ‘I thought having him as a stay-at-home dad was going to be the end of my problems with childcare, not the beginning of a whole new world of guilt. I’ll call tonight, Wills, yes? Just to make sure you’re okay. Provided the twins go to bed all right. For some reason, a Friday with their father is usually enough to wind them up beyond all human understanding. If not, you’ll be in tomorrow, all day?’

‘Course. Love to Dan and the boys.’ But my eyes had swivelled of their own accord to the impeccably tailored back of Luke Fry. God, how I had wanted that man. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that the intervening ten years should have wiped out at least some of that longing, the sheer emptiness I’d felt at the end of every day when he had once more failed to acknowledge so much as the space that I occupied. But, here I was, old enough to know better and still, God help me, still wishing he’d turn around, catch my eye and smile that particular smile.

‘You okay, Will?’ Jazz patted my arm. Owing to the enormous weight of silver rings he was wearing, it was like being caressed by a carthorse in full harness.

‘Fine, Jazz. Look,’ my voice was shaking slightly, ‘I’d better be off home, too. I suspect a family conference is going to be thrown, now we’ve all found out what Granddad left us, so …’ I kept my eyes stapled to his face. Why should I look at Luke Fry? Why should I even want to?

Jazz stared at me. Although he’d dyed his hair black to go with the whole undead thing, his eyebrows were still distressingly pale, giving him the appearance of an unfinished painting. ‘Sure you’re all right? You’ve not done the up-chucking thing for a while now.’

‘I know. It got me a bit by surprise, but I’ll be okay.’ I pulled my jacket on and backed towards the door, my face pink with the effort of not glancing over at the bar. ‘Better get back, you know what my family is like, they’ll be imagining me mugged and in a ditch by now.’

‘Who’d mug you for a nose?’ Jazz lifted his drink again.

‘I don’t know, Tycho Brahe?’ Then, because he was doing the ‘blank face’ of a man whose hobbies only include reading if the words are printed on the back of a beer bottle, I said, ‘Look it up. Anyway, if you’re at a loose end tomorrow, pop over. I’m not doing anything, as usual.’ I finished speaking, spun round to open the door and collided hard with another body.

There was a sudden smell of expensive cologne, an impression of firmness and the scratch of linen against my face. Then my mortification was completed by a hand under my elbow helping me upright until I could stare into the face of—

‘I’m terribly sorry, wasn’t looking. Hold on a moment. Don’t I know you? Your face is really familiar. Give me a minute. It’s Willow. Willow Cayton, isn’t it? Good God, that’s incredible. Do you remember me? Fry. Luke Fry? We were at university together?’

With deep breathing and an empty stomach, I could just about keep things down and under control, but I hoped he couldn’t see the desperate clenching that was necessary. ‘Oh. Ah. Hello.’

‘Good grief, after all these years. You look wonderful, Willow. Absolutely …’ and he left a pause, during which he looked me up and down quickly enough not to cause offence, but slowly enough to gratify my ego ‘… fantastic.’

‘I … er.’ Now I was sure I had most of my bodily functions suppressed, I allowed myself to stare upwards and into his face. Oh. Oh, wow. I could feel my pupils dilating. I really needed Jazz to rush up, slap me and carry me away to the Land of the Sane. But the best I could hope for was that he’d stump up in his ridiculous shoes and want to be introduced. Jazz was barely ever within hailing distance of the World of Sanity. ‘Yes. I think I remember you.’ I dropped a shoulder in a shrug of assumed insouciance. ‘You were in a band.’

‘Fresh Fingers. Jeez, yeah, fancy you remembering that.’

Oh boy. He still looked, a few years notwithstanding, exactly the same. His eyes really were clear violet. He still had cheekbones like a hungry vampire and his hair was the slightly long, slightly curly blueprint of perfection it always had been. Shit. This man had been my mental benchmark for boyfriends for ten years and this was the first time he’d acknowledged my existence. In fact, this was the closest I’d ever stood to him, if you don’t count the time I managed to press myself up against him in a crush at the Student Union bar. That makes me sound really stalkerish, doesn’t it? I wasn’t, honestly. Just a bit … well, obsessed, probably.

‘Well. What a coincidence, bumping into you like this. It’s my first time back in York for, what, about eight months, and the first thing that happens is I meet up with someone I haven’t seen for ten years. Amazing.’ His gaze floated up towards my face again, then glanced behind me. ‘Look, sorry, mustn’t keep you. Your boyfriend is looking daggers at me and you’re obviously in a hurry.’ He waved a casual hand (gorgeous, long musician’s fingers, no wedding ring, we are talking Jude Law at least casting-wise) at my jacket slung over my shoulder and half-turned away.

‘He … it … that’s Jazz. Not my. Er, he’s not.’ I scrambled around in my brain for a coherent sentence. ‘It was nice to. Too. To see you again. Too.’

‘Hey, then, perhaps we could catch up sometime? I’d really like to find out what the old crowd’s been getting up to.’

‘The old … oh, yes, right. I, I live in York so …’ The ‘old crowd’? Either he’d forgotten that the old crowd had packed themselves so tightly around him that I’d metaphorically been stuck in the turnstiles, or he was mistaking me for someone else.

‘You stayed in York? Cool. Here, give me your number.’ He brought out his phone and I berated myself a little bit for noticing it was the brand new model. I wondered what he did these days, the trendy clothes and up-to-the-minute phone seemed to indicate that he was massively successful at it, whatever it was. I tried to hide my own phone’s ‘two generations old’ casing in my shaking hands as I got it out to check my number – I was so rarely asked for it that I didn’t know it off by heart. ‘Great. Thanks. I’ll call soon, yeah?’

I could hardly breathe as I fell through the door he held open for me, and my treacherous stomach felt squeezed and heavy like a rubber knapsack full of leaking batteries. Slowly, carefully, I walked home, ignoring the bile which chattered away at the back of my teeth.

 

If you’d like to find out more about Jane, follow her on Twitter @janelovering or visit her website: www.janelovering.com

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Can’t Buy Me Love is available now as a paperback and an eBook. Purchasing options can be found here: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/cant-buy-me-love 

Go buy it!!! NOW!!!!

HAPPY READING!!

The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws – book review

THE BLURB

With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.

In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.

As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.

It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit. 

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

Book 2 in the Sullivan and Broderick Crime Series, and just as good, if not better, than the first The Rock which I raced through!  Saying that, this can be read as a standalone but you do get more out of it if you have read book 1!

We follow on in Gibraltar where Tamara Sullivan is still serving in the police force there after being sent over from London.  And this time they are investigating a mysterious crime centred around a big Hollywood movie that is being filmed there but not all are happy with the choice of topic being portrayed in the film and will go to extraordinary lengths to get their viewpoint across.

We get a great glimpse at the role Gibraltar played in World War Two and how secrets always come back to haunt some and impact those living now.  

Once again there is a great pace with the writing and storyline and it is a very stylish book, with fascinating little sub plots and great interaction between the detectives once more.  

Another really great read and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series!!