My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 29th May 2021



Hello and Happy Saturday once more! Hope all is well in your world! Mine has been a very lethargic world this week, as I had my first Covid jab last Saturday and it has hit me for six energy wise.  Just hoping I get some energy back sometime soon!
So that has impacted my reading this week – there just hasn’t been the inclination for me to read!  I managed to get 2 books finished – on the upside, it has also made me stay away from Netgalley and bookshops so that’s a positive!!
Here’s my quick look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

PERIMENOPAUSE POWER by MAISIE HILL – 4 STARS

STRANGE SIGHT by SYD MOORE – 4 STARS

BOOKPOST


My subscription with RENARD PRESS bought me this delight this month

Described by Virginia Woolf herself as ‘easily the best of my books’, and by her husband Leonard as a ‘masterpiece’, To the Lighthouse, first published in 1927, is one of the milestones of Modernism. Set on the Isle of Skye, over a decade spanning the First World War, the narrative centres on the Ramsay family, and is framed by Mrs Ramsay’s promise to take a trip to the lighthouse the next day – a promise which isn’t to be fulfilled for a decade. Flowing from character to character and from year to year, the novel paints a moving portrait of love, loss and perception.

Bearing all the hallmarks of Woolf’s prose, with her delicate handling of the complexities of human relationships, To the Lighthouse has earned its reputation – frequently appearing in lists of the best novels of the twentieth century, it has lost not an iota of brilliance.

CURRENTLY READING

STRANGE FASCINATION by SYD MOORE

HAPPY READING!!

#QuickReads #BookReview SAVING THE DAY by KATIE FFORDE @midaspr @readingagency @KatieFforde


Delighted to be part of the celebrations today for QUICK READS! If you don’t know what they’re all about, then here’s some info to get you up to speed!

CELEBRATING THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF QUICK READS:

SHORT BOOKS AND GREAT STORIES TACKLING THE ADULT LITERACY CRISIS

OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE: The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

LOUISE CANDLISH: The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

KATIE FFORDE: Saving the Day (Arrow)

PETER JAMES: Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

CAITLIN MORAN: How to Be a Woman, abridged (Ebury)

KHURRUM RAHMAN: The Motive (HQ)

27 May 2021 | £1 | #QuickReads @readingagency

www.readingagency.org.uk | Images

“Buy one, gift one: Buy a Quick Read this summer and we’ll gift a copy to help someone discover the joy of reading.”

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure. Quick Reads, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.

This year’s short books include:

a dark domestic thriller from British Book Award winner Louise Candlish (The Skylight), who thanks reading for setting her on the right path when she was ‘young and adrift’

an uplifting romance by the much-loved Katie Fforde (Saving the Day), who never thought she would be able to be an author because of her struggle with dyslexia

the holiday from hell for Detective Roy Grace courtesy of long-time literacy campaigner and crime fiction maestro Peter James (Wish You Were Dead)

a specially abridged version of the feminist manifesto (How to Be a Woman) by Caitlin Moran: ‘everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend.’

an introduction to Khurrum Rahman’s dope dealer Javid Qasim (The Motive), who previously found the idea of reading a book overwhelming and so started reading late in life, to find ‘joy, comfort and an escape’ 

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s follow-up to her Booker nominated debut sensation My Sister, the Serial Killer – a family drama set in lockdown Lagos (The Baby is Mine)

Over 5 million Quick Reads have been distributed since the life-changing programme launched in 2006. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes. This year, for every book bought until 31 July 2021, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the joy of reading. ‘Buy one, gift one’ will see thousands of free books given to organisations across the UK to reach less confident readers and those with limited access to books – bring the joy and transformative benefits of reading to new audiences.

📚📚📚

About Quick Reads 2021 Titles (27 May 2021)

Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.

Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”

Louise Candlish, The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”

Katie Fforde, Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House)

Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”

Peter James, Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”

Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury)

It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”

Khurrum Rahman, The Motive (HQ)

Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.

Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”

About The Reading Agency & Quick Reads

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England.  www.readingagency.org.uk

Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency,aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK. Each year, Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 5 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

I was very lucky to receive a copy of SAVING THE DAY by KATIE FFORDE as my Quick Read to review….

MY REVIEW

What a perfect little treat of a book! It’s a story that will leave you smiling and having all the feels as you follow Allie on her journey in claiming back and life and doing what makes her happy!  Ooh and there are recipes!!!  It’s  a book that is good for your soul – and your stomach!!!

Allie is bored with her job, and her boyfriend!  When she sees a vacancy advertised at her favourite cafe she takes the plunge and applies – despite being a very novice cook!!  But with the help of a very lovely neighbour, she gets a crash course in the basics and suddenly her life starts to make her smile again.

What I loved was seeing Allie taking control of her life! She knew it wasn’t working for her, so she grabbed an opportunity to change it!  A lesson for us all!!  And with her changing the course of her life, it sets changes up for others around her too.  But with good news comes bad, and it starts to worry Allie that her happiness may be shortlived!

I loved this little glimpse into the life of Allie!  And it was also a wonderful little break from life with a Quick Reads – being able to sit down, read a book, escape the world for a short while, and then get back to reality.  We all need that break more than ever, so these bite sized books are the perfect way for us all to jump into another world!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE RAILWAY GIRLS IN LOVE by MAISIE THOMAS



The brand new Railway Girls novel set in Manchester during WWII. Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell, Daisy Styles and Margaret Dickinson.
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Readers LOVE the Railway Girls:

Gripping and intriguing’
‘Great story lines’
Exceptional story . . . a must-read
Poignant
Emotional . . . strong women’

ABOUT THE BOOK 

Love is in the air, and together the railway girls can overcome even the hardest of times.

Mabel has finally put the past behind her, and her relationship with the dashing Harry is stronger than ever. That is, until an old flame shows up, leaving Mabel questioning her future.

Meanwhile Joan has made amends with Bob – if only she could do the same with Gran. And there’s still that family mystery she wants answer to, isn’t there?

As a mother and grandmother, Dot Green has always put her family first. Her job as a parcels porter has brought new purpose to her life, so is it finally time to start following her heart . . .

Life as a railway girl is busy but as war rages on and air raids disrupt daily life, the women realise they need each other more than ever, especially when there might be wedding bells on the horizon. 

PUBLISHED BY ARROW


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon


MY REVIEW

It feels wonderful to be back in the company of The Railway Girls once more, and in this 3rd book in the series, we get to witness more of the day to day goings on in the life of these women as they cope with life during the war, alongside their own personal dramas – and there’s always lots going on in their work and family lives to explore!

Life in Manchester in 1941 is ticking along – the women are settling in their new roles, and are just happy to be doing what they can to help at this time. They feel useless when they’re not doing anything, so their new jobs give them a purpose. It still doesn’t get any easier though living life with the fear of air raids on a daily basis, but it has to! And Mabel, Joan and Dot are finding life is not getting any simpler!

You really get a great sense of the time with the way the story is written, and get to experience life in the 40’s through these women and the issues facing them at the time. Shocking secrets from the past are also revealed and goes to show that what you believe to be true is not always as it seems, and that support of family and friends really comes to the front throughout as events play out.

This series never seems to disappoint with the drama and history, and showing that life for these women is anything but simple, and I love losing myself in their stories in each book. Can’t wait for more!!


★★★★★

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

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 22nd May 2021



Hello and Happy Saturday once more!   Been a rather Autumnal week of weather here with lots of rain and strong winds, so just keeping everything crossed we do get to see a Summer here sometime soon! Just one day of sunshine would be nice at the moment!
On to books! They always brighten our days!! And I’ve managed to shift another 4 off the TBR pile so happy with that. But with a positive comes a negative… there may have been a little shopping trip to Waterstones to spend some vouchers and 1 caught my eye at Netgalley!  You can’t win every week I suppose!
Here’s my look back…


BOOKS FINISHED


FINDING SUMMER HAPPINESS by CHRIS PENHALL – 4 STARS


GUILTY by SADIE RYAN – 5 STARS


TAPESTRIES OF LIFE by ANNE SVERDRUP-THYGESON – 5 STARS


SAVING THE DAY by KATIE FFORDE – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL


Starting over at Netgalley…


A STRANGE AND BRILLIANT LIGHT by ELI LEE

out July 2021A riveting, thought-provoking speculative literary novel exploring the impact of the AI revolution through the eyes of three very different young women.

Lal, Janetta and Rose are living in a time of flux. Technological advance has brought huge financial rewards to those with power, but large swathes of the population are losing their jobs to artificial intelligence, or auts, as they’re called. Unemployment is high, discontent is rife and rumours are swirling. Many feel robbed – not just of their livelihoods, but of their hopes for the future.

Lal is languishing in her role at a coffee shop and feeling overshadowed by her quietly brilliant sister, Janetta, whose Ph.D. is focused on making auts empathetic. Even Rose, Lal’s best friend, has found a sense of purpose in charismatic up-and-coming politician Alek.

When vigilantes break in to the coffee shop and destroy their new coffee-making aut, it sets in motion a chain of events that will pull the three young women in very different directions.

Change is coming – change that will launch humankind into a new era. If Rose, Lal and Janetta can find a way to combine their burgeoning talents, they might just end up setting the course of history. 


And then to Waterstones where I had vouchers to spend!!

KLARA AND THE SUN by KAZUO ISHIGURO

‘The Sun always has ways to reach us.’

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly-changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?



STRANGE TRICKS by SYD MOORE

Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…

ARIADNE by JENNIFER SAINT

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel 

CURRENTLY READING

SIXTEEN HORSES by GREG BUCHANAN

HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour AN ACT OF LOVE by CAROL DRINKWATER #BookReview @MichaelJBooks @Carol4OliveFarm #AnActOfLove



Delighted to be with you today as part of the tour for the wonderful AN ACT OF LOVE by CAROL DRINKWATER. 
My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of the tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK


France, 1943.

Forced to flee war ravaged Poland, Sara and her parents are offered refuge in a beautiful but dilapidated house in the French Alps. It seems the perfect hideaway, despite haunting traces of the previous occupants who left in haste.

But shadows soon fall over Sara’s blissful summer, and her blossoming romance with local villager Alain. As the Nazis close in, the family is forced to make a harrowing choice that could drive them apart forever, while Sara’s own bid for freedom risks several lives . . .

Will her family make it through the summer together?
And can she hold onto the love she has found with Alain?


PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is a really evocative and powerful historical romance, that gives you a glimpse at life amidst the fear of war.  Set in France, a young family are seeking shelter after having to flee Poland and they soon find themselves part of a new community and wondering where life will take them next.  

The story is told as Sara looks back over her life, surrounded by her family, and is dealing with regrets from the past.  As she shares what happened to her during 1943 we get to see what life was like for the Polish Jews  forced to flee and hide, all to avoid death.

She was 17 at the time, so life in the new French village where the locals welcomed them, was something very different.  There’s even some optimism about their future – that soon turned to dread as events from the War took a darker turn and got closer to where they were.   She gets herself a job looking after children for a local family, but you can sense they never feel settled because of that unknown element of will they continue to be safe.

I really felt the trepidation and fear of Sara as she found herself living a new life with a new identity, and helping with the war effort in whatever way she could.  The hope that her time spent with Alain gave her really does steady her mind and gives her some kind of security, but you know she’s always wary of feeling too settled anywhere.

The characters and settings are really brought to life throughout, and that dread of never knowing what was around the corner comes through loud and clear.  The realities of life, often hopeful, often cruel, are really explored throughout this beautifully written book.

★★★★

#GuestPost FINDING SUMMER HAPPINESS by CHRIS PENHALL#PublicationDay @ChocLituk @ChrisPenhall @RubyFiction


A huge pleasure today to be able to hand over my Blog to the lovely Chris Penhall to help celebrate it being publication day of FINDING SUMMER HAPPINESS!!!  Oh to be living in that setting right now – and enjoying blue skies!!Over to you Chris!!


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Release Day Post: Finding Summer Happiness by Chris Penhall

Thanks for inviting me to write a few words about my new novel.

Finding Summer Happiness is my third book and is set on the beautiful south Wales coast. It follows the story of Miriam Ryan, a successful businesswoman who has just sold her company and is search of rest, relaxation and solitude. However, when she arrives in her secluded idyll, she gets anything but!

I had wanted to write a novel set in Wales for many years, but it wasn’t until I spent a day walking with friends on the glorious Pembrokeshire coastal path that the idea for the story really began to take root in my mind.

We were walking between Manorbier to Bosherston, and as usual I kept stopping to take in the stunning scenery around me. As the path dipped down towards an empty beach, I had a flashback – completely out of the blue. I was on a beach with my family and friends when I was a child. We were playing cricket. And for the briefest of moments I felt I was there. But it wasn’t the beach I was walking towards: it was Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsula where we used to spend endless happy days swimming, playing ball games and jumping off the sand dunes.

And that is when my mind began to develop the storyline. I decided to incorporate those kinds of vivid little mental films that take us back to a particular time and place within the book to help tell Miriam’s story.

It took a few years to do, because not long after that my first novel, The House That Alice Built won the Choc Lit Search for a Star Competition, and I then I wrote the sequel to that Portuguese-set book, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun, before I started work on Finding Summer Happiness.

I also have a half-formed interest in astronomy and one of the things on my list of things to do – which is very long list as a lot of things on that list didn’t get done in 2020 – is to go to a dark sky event. So, I decided that one of the main characters needed to be an expert in looking at the stars, and that’s why Alan Thomas, astronomer, author and dreamer was born. Not literally, as in the book he’s got adult children of his own. Miriam and Alan, plus two other characters, Rhiannon and Jim decide to go to one of the events. You’ll have to read the book to see whether they get there or not!

During the story, I also take some of my characters to Neath, which is where I was born. It’s quite a way from Pembrokeshire, so I get them to stop off briefly in Swansea on the way. When they are in Neath, an area called Fairyland is mentioned in passing – this does exist and you can get a bus there. It’s a housing estate, and there’s a road, so nothing supernatural or anything. When questioned, Alan is a bit vague about the origins of the name, as am I, but I have been told (by my cousin who was told by a friend who saw it written somewhere) that it could have been because it’s said a Roman Centurion got lost in the area – Neath has a few Roman remains in and around the town, including one next to

my old school – and some fairies helped him find his way home. Is this true? Are there other theories or reasons? Probably. I like the fact I don’t really know!

This is one of the themes of the book; how you can find beauty and magic everywhere – whether it’s gazing out to sea on the Pembrokeshire coast, standing on top of a hill in an old industrialised town, or in the genuine kindness from people you don’t know when you are least expecting it.

I have to say I also enjoyed creating some of the minor characters; there are a couple of surprise tribute acts and a Look-Alike festival, too. The idea from that came from the Elvis Festival in Porthcawl – which is also on my to-go-to-list – and the number of events I’ve been involved with whilst working for BBC local radio!

Anyway, I really enjoyed writing Finding Summer Happiness, and I hope you enjoy reading it too. Perhaps you’ll feel like you’ve had a nice long cwtch when you’ve finished the book. That’s the Welsh word for hug and is one of my favourites.

🌞🌞🌞

About the book:

You won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs … Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people? Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realises her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

PURCHASE LINKS

getbook.at/FindingSummerHappiness

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/finding-summer-happiness

About Chris Penhall:

Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.

Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness is is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio. She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title! Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in 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! 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. 

You can find more information about her on www.chrispenhall.co.uk or follow her on twitter: @ChrisPenhall     

Instagram: christinepenhall 

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

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 15th May 2021



Hello and Happy Saturday! We made it through another week!  I’m sure they’re going quicker than ever though!
On the bookish front, it’s been a fairly productive week!  Another 4 books finished but then I undid all that good work with a visit to Netgalley and some online book shopping!! Will I ever learn?!! NO!!!
Here’s my look back!


BOOKS FINISHED


YOURS, TRUDY by GINA HOLLANDS – 5 STARS

THE HOUSE OF ALWAYS by JENN LYONS  – 5 STARS

THE CAT AND THE CITY by NICK BRADLEY -3 STARS

HOW TO BE SAD by HELEN RUSSELL – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL


Over to Netgalley we go…..


THE WOODCOCK by RICHARD SMYTH

publication date – July 2021

It’s 1920s England, and the coastal town of Gravely is finally enjoying a fragile peace after the Great War. John Lowell, a naturalist who writes articles on the flora and fauna of the shoreline, and his wife Harriet lead a simple life, basking in their love for each other and enjoying the company of John’s visiting old school friend, David. But when an American whaler arrives in town with his beautiful red-haired daughters, boasting of his plans to build a pier and pleasure-grounds a mile out to sea, unexpected tensions and temptations arise. As secrets multiply, Harriet, John and David must each ask themselves, what price is to be paid for pleasure?

And from Goldsboro Books, their book of the month…


SIXTEEN HORSES by GREG BUCHANAN

Sixteen horses dead. Each buried with a single eye facing the sun . . .

In the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, the heads of sixteen horses are found buried in circles, with only their eyes exposed to the light of the low winter sun. The local police call upon forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen to assist with this uniquely disturbing case.

In the weeks that follow, investigators uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in this community: disappearances, arson, and mutilations, all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself. And as the town panics, not everything in Ilmarsh is as it seems. . . Dark days follow, then Cooper finds herself working with local police detective Alec Nichols to uncover a frightening mystery.

A literary thriller from a stunning new talent, Sixteen Horses is about enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind.

And then I had a little shop – online! – at BEARDED BADGER PUBLISHING  as I do love to support an indie!

SEVEN NIGHTS AT THE FLAMING HOTEL by DREW GUNNERSON

You could have been someone, you could have been a contender, yet instead you ended up here, a dishwasher at the Flamingo Hotel. From the death of your mother, to homelessness, to insanity, and back again, to an encounter with an American serial killer, a lover affair with a performance artist, to the loss of your foreskin, to living in a shed, and certain bum operations, you have only ever wanted one thing. To find someone worse off than yourself.

And now’s your chance.

You’ve got seven nights.

At the Flamingo Hotel. 

DOGLIKE by RORY AARON

DOGLIKE is the new debut collection of poems by Rory Aaron. Set amongst a gritty urban landscape, these poems hit hard, experimenting with both form and dialogue.

UN(IN)FORMED by BECKY DEANS

UN(IN)FORMED is the new collection of poems by Becky Deans. Becky’s latest collection is very much steeped in the Derbyshire landscape where she lives, with poems tackling the ongoing destruction to natural habitat featuring amongst others.

CURRENTLY READING

GUILTY by SADIE RYAN


HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview THE SCREAMING SKY by CHARLES FOSTER



ABOUT THE BOOK


Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve.

They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories, and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain.

This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast.

Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, in Little Toller’s monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.


PUBLISHED BY  Little Toller Books

MY REVIEW


This is an ode to swifts! And what a bird they are! You can’t help but fall in love with them after reading this book, from the stunningly beautiful cover, to the lyrical words and prose inside. This is a beautiful book that follows the travels of the swifts and looks into all aspects of their lives, alongside the thoughts and travels of the author as he watches them along the way.

Charles Foster admits he’s obssessed with swifts and that comes across loud and clear throughout this book! He goes into staggering detail as he covers the staggering miles flown by these birds each year, and he’s there to witness them at different stages of their journey as they are creatures of habit and there is still no definitive answer as to how these birds know where to go, or when! But every year they set out on the journey from Africa to Oxford (his home) and it’s the highlight of his year when he watches them return once more.

This is a book that mixes the history, geography and biology surrounding these amazing creatures and I just kept finding myself staring at the skies at regular intervals whilst reading in the hope that maybe I’d spot a swift in the sky overhead! Not spotted one yet this year but hopefully soon!

It also looks at how humans have impacted on the birds, in relation to nesting sites and the use of pesticides on the insects they feed on and you just wonder how this will impact on them in the years to come unless we stop some of our ways.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book and full of so many wonderful observations on these birds and their ways and you just can’t help but be impressed by them! I will keep looking up and hoping to share some of the authors’ joy when they’ve made their way back to UK shores for the Summer!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Little Toller Books for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview HOW TO BE SAD by HELEN RUSSELL



ABOUT THE BOOK

We live in an age when most reality TV shows climax in a tearful finale. But feeling sad – genuinely sad – is still taboo. Yet, sadness happens to us all, sometimes in heartbreakingly awful ways. If we don’t know how to be sad, it can be isolating for those experiencing it and baffling for those trying to help loved ones through dark times.

Today, most of us know intellectually that ‘sad’ is normal. But we’re not always brilliant at allowing for it, in practice. Sadness is going to happen, so we might as well know how to ‘do it’ right. And it’s time to start facing our problems and talking about them. Positive psychology may have become more accepted in mainstream culture, but rates of depression have continued to rise.

We’re trying so hard to be happy. But studies show that we could all benefit from learning the art of sadness and how to handle it, well.

PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

I finished this book with tears in my eyes! Not because it was a tragic ending, but because it was hopeful and refreshing – you aren’t alone!!

We live in a world that is based on ‘being happy’, seemingly at all costs for some, and this book gives a fascinating balance to that saying we need to embrace the negative more instead of trying to shut it out and avoid it all costs! Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and we need to take more in our stride and deal with the differing emotions that life throws our way in a more pro-active way, instead of trying to shut out all feelings with pills and medication.

The author delves heavily into her own life which is full of heartbreak and has led her on the path to trying to understand why she feels the way she does. From childhood, to her present life, she looks back at the different stages and events that have shaped her as a person. And how as a society we are encouraged to dismiss all the bad stuff and strive for happiness 24/7! That isn’t humanly possible! But society tells us it is as we scroll through various social media sites, seeing the happy posts of people, and this book does a brilliant job of looking behind the curtain on a number of issues of how ‘sadness’ is perceived.

She also talks to a number of well known people on their own battles with expressing their emotions in life and that was quite illuminating. The public image versus the personal battles, and that’s another way in which social media has skewered our views on people.

From the role of parents trying to suppress their childrens’ emotions – quick, buy them stuff to make them happy all the time! – to how as adults we find it difficult to express our feelings and feel ashamed to be truthful or ask for help when we are suffering. It also explores different ways of getting out of your head, so to speak, in the form of therapy, medication, reading, being in nature – and the importance of switching off from the digital world for your own wellbeing, something I always feel better for doing.

This was a really well written book, full of so much honesty and great advice and information.

★★★★

#BlogTour EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE #BookReview #EmpireOfAnts @SusanneFoitzik @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE.  My thanks to the publisher, authors and Anne of  Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 ‘Thrilling, compellingly readable and paradigm-shattering’ – Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast


Ants have been walking the Earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Today there are one million ants for every one of us. The closer you get to ants, the more human they look: they build megacities, grow crops, raise livestock, tend their young and infirm, and even make vaccines. They also have a darker side: they wage war, enslave rivals and rebel against their oppressors. From fearsome army ants, who stage twelve-hour hunting raids where they devour thousands, to gentle leafcutters gardening in their peaceful underground kingdoms, every ant is engineered by nature to fulfil their particular role.

 Acclaimed biologist Susanne Foitzik has travelled the globe to study these master architects of Earth. Joined by journalist Olaf Fritsche, Foitzik invites readers deep into her world – in the field and in the lab – and will inspire new respect for ants as a global superpower. Fascinating and action-packed, Empire of Ants will open your eyes to the secret societies thriving right beneath your feet

PUBLISHED BY  OCTOPUS BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susanne Foitzik (Author) Susanne Foitzik is an evolutionary biologist, behavioral scientist and international authority on ants. After completing her PhD in ant evolution and behavior and conducting postdoctoral work in the US, she became a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Currently, she teaches at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where she studies the behaviors of slaveholding ants and different work roles in insect colonies. Her findings have been published in over 100 scientific papers to date.

 Olaf Fritsche (Author)

Olaf Fritsche is a science journalist and biophysicist with a PhD in biology. He was previously an editor at the German-language edition of Scientific American, is the author and coauthor


MY REVIEW

As a gardener myself, I’m very aware of ants!  But I have to be honest in not really knowing much about them, other than they’re very good at crawling over you when you sit on the grass! But consider me now an ant convert! I’m seriously impressed by these little creatures after reading this book, and you will be too! Who knew something so little could be so powerful and so complex!  


For every one of us, there’s a million of them!  And within their communities there are so many similarities to humans  and the way we live our lives – they even wage wars like us!  And this book tracks the different varieties around the world, noting their differences, their similarities, their quirks and their unique traits and I was utterly captivated by these insects.
The work put in by the team behind this book is exhaustive and you really get a good glimpse into the hard work and the less than glamorous research trips they find themselves on to investigate ants a little closer.


There’s always a danger with these kind of books that it goes a little OTT with detail and feeling quite clinical with the facts, but this book does a great job of balancing out the facts with the intriguing aspects of ‘ant culture’!  The queen system is fascinating, as well as looking at how they deal with ant illnesses, their use of sound and scent, how they defend themselves, and just the sheer amount of work it takes to be part of an ant colony!  There’s even ant zombies!! How could you not want to learn more about them?!


This was a truly fascinating, extensive and informative book all about the world of ants and I found myself totally in awe of ants after reading it!

★★★★