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Archive for the ‘contemporary fiction’ Category

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Published: 19 January 2017
Reviewed: 13 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Black and White Publishing

 

Description:

Daisy Delaney’s life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn’t proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.

That is until Michel’s bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer ‘Lucy Lovecake’. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake’s new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.

As Daisy teeters on the brink of love, how can she ever tell Michel that she is the mysterious Lucy Lovecake? Could he ever forgive her for finishing off his career? And more importantly, does Daisy even want to be with a difficult, egotistical, down-on-his-luck Frenchman just as her career is beginning to take off? Especially when she has some other very interesting offers…

My Thoughts & Review:

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake is the perfect book to start your year with, it oozes charm and appeal that has a reader grinning from ear to ear at the wonderful highs and commiserating with the protagonist when it comes to the lows but overall it’s a great  book for an escape from the drudgery and rubbish weather of late.

Daisy Delaney is a fantastic character, a budding author, talented amateur baker and lingerie sales assistant – she’s a busy lass that’s for sure!  She’s just the sort of character that readers will warm to and relate to.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, I found that I was excited for her when it came to the launch of her book ‘French Fancy’ under her nom de plume Lucy Lovecake.
The chemistry between Daisy and her new love interest Michel Amiel makes for interesting  and entertaining reading.  Michel is a character that definitely stands out in this book, his behaviour is somewhat prima donna-esque, and so to see the success of Daisy/Lucy makes him all the more grumpy – delightfully entertaining for the audience.  

The writing itself is so flowing and easy to read that this is a book you can read in one sitting (if the outside world gives you peace and quiet!), it’s the sort of book you can pick up and become utterly lost in.  The plot is fun and well thought out, the characters are a breath of fresh air (even the grumpy Michel!), but best of all it’s full of optimism and the idea that you can take hold of the reins of life, give them a good pull and decide where you want to go.
The author is spot on with her quote “It’s a modern day fairytale – I want to promote the idea that women’s financial independence can dive them emotional freedom.  It’s about empowering femininity”.


You can buy a copy of The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake here.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some brilliant reviews!

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Keith Stuart’s wonderful  novel “A Boy Made of Blocks” and share my review with you.

Description:

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Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex

He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
Meet eight-year-old Sam

Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.
But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .
Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those rare books that changes how a reader thinks, it makes you pause and re evaluate things you once took for granted and makes you appreciate the things you do have.

From the very beginning of the novel Alex is a character that many readers will struggle to connect with.  His attempts to rebuild his life after the breakdown of his marriage are awkward, showing incredible insensitivity, impatience and a complete lack of understanding.  Making the decision to try a trial separation from his marriage to Jody he moves in with a friend, his temporary break from the toils of parenting are welcomed.  However, there is no break for the long suffering Jody, she still has to parent Sam, their eight year old autistic son.
It’s at this point that I will freely admit to not having much knowledge of Autism and related spectrum disorders.  Having never encountered this disorder I did some research whilst reading this book and I can understand some of Alex’s struggles.

Narration by Alex opens this character up for a lot of criticism, but also lets the reader see what it can be like to struggle to adjust to something so huge.  There is no comprehensive parenting manual handed out when exiting the maternity hospital, and as a parent I know that sometimes “winging it” is the only thing you can do.  So when parents are faced with a life changing diagnosis of their young child this must make things 100% more confusing, more difficult, and more challenging.

As the story unfolds, the reader begins to empathise with Alex, understands his troubles and realises there’s a deep rooted issue that needs to be addressed.  I sympathised with Jody, she is the main carer for Sam having given up her job previously.  Alex feels that Jody has no time for him, and in a way he is right, Jody spends her day navigating the labyrinth of triggers with Sam whilst trying to keep a home for Alex to retu

rn to at the end of the working day and she is exhausted – physically and mentally drained.  It’s no wonder therefore that their relationship falters, they are both struggling and both need the others support.

Sam is a wonderfully rich character, the author’s writing really gives the reader a feel for how Sam struggles with everyday life.  How noises or changes to routine can upset him to the point of meltdown, and the fallout from it all is traumatic for both Sam and his parents.  His struggles with school and the interactions highlighted an issue faced by many parents in this situation and the need for more specialist schools equipped to help and support.

The turning point for the family is the discovery of Minecraft, a computer game that Sam discovers after Jody was given an old xbox for him to play with.  The effect it has on Sam is beautiful, Alex’s reaction when he watches Sam playing it was a joy to read.  Seeing that light bulb moment for Alex when he realises that his son has connected with the game, captivated by it.  Minecraft appearers a very structured game, things have purpose and a place which means that Sam can relate to this.  But through playing the game he and Alex begin to bond, a connection between them forms.

There is a very poignant aspect to this novel, but it’s also humorous and insightful at the same time.  Keith Stuart has written a story that evokes emotion and laughter whilst educating his audience, the fact that he has written it from personal experience adds an authenticity.

Utterly brilliant, tear jerking, funny and true to life are just some of the things I can say about this book, but it’s really one you need to read for yourself to decide.  Just make sure you have tissues near by….

You can buy a copy of A Boy Made of Blocks here.

 

About the Author:

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In 2012 one of KEITH STUART‘s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing videogames together – especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, a new set of bloggers each day right up to Friday 20th January 2017!

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Published: 12 January 2017
Reviewed: 11 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK as part of the blog tour

 

Description:

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Dry was an example of a book I saw spoken about on social media, many commenting that this would be the book to look out for, a story so cleverly crafted and interwoven, atmospheric to the point of rendering the reader speechless.  Well that was more than enough to catch my interest and thankfully I managed to get a copy to review and see for myself just how good this book actually was.

Initially I found this slow to get into, perhaps it was the fact that previous to this I’ve been lucky enough to read some amazing pacy thrillers, but fellow reviewers suggested persevering, stating that they had loved this book, so I continued reading.
Looking back I can appreciate the slow opening now, working so well with the depressive atmosphere in Kiewarra, the arid heat causing people and animals to slowly wilt and languish.

Aaron Falk is an interesting character, not only because of his link to the deceased Luke Hadler and the secret they shared, but also for the person he has become since leaving the town twenty years ago.  His inability to say no to Hadler’s parents means he becomes involved in the investigation of the deaths of Hadler, his wife and his son.  The oppressive hostility he faces from the townspeople shows just have little their mindsets have advanced in the decades after his departure.  Working alongside Raco, the new chief of police they discover there may be more to things than initially thought.
Both of these characters were very interesting and readers will feel able to connect with them quite easily.  Conversely, Grant Dow was a character that I struggled with, malicious, nasty and downright horrible – a very well crafted character!  Emphasising the point that some bullies never change.
The juxtaposition of the open space of the town and the closed knit community always makes for engaging reading, and that is definitely the case here.  Outsiders are exactly that, people from outside the town, and are made to feel this the entire time they there – the atmosphere is very oppressive and claustrophobic.  None of this is aided by the drought that is ravaging the town, people are quick to mistrust, tempers are frayed and it only needs a small spark to ignite the arid landscape.   Adding to the overall enthralment of the novel.

Jane Harper has shown herself to be a very accomplished author with this impressive debut, and although it was slow to begin with I am very glad I stuck with it.

You can buy a copy of The Dry here.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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Published: 10 November 2016
Reviewed: 19 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by publisher in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Angelena Boden’s compelling debut novel tackles challenging themes, its psychological twists and violence keeping you gripped to the very last page.

The career of acclaimed cellist, Iain Millar, is in tatters. Allegations of sexual harassment while teaching in a girls’ school have left him unemployable, and he soon spirals into depression.

Iain sees himself as a failure and falls into a dark place where his cello playing provides the only light. When fresh revelations appear to implicate Iain in the abuse of his ambitious wife, Una Carrington, the world is quick to decide his guilt. Iain’s precious antique cello then disappears, and even music is lost to him.

Fergus O’Neal, a fellow string player, sets out to recover the missing instrument knowing it is Iain’s only hope of redemption …

This is an addictive debut and perfect for fans of contemporary thrillers.

My Thoughts & Review:

Angelena Boden has written one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read, this is a compelling and captivating novel that shines light on the topic of domestic abuse.  The writing is so very eloquent and clever that it draws the reader in from the very beginning and holds their attention rapt despite any rising trepidation at what may lie ahead.

The characters in this are superbly written and the reader can conjure a very vivid image of them.  Iain is a man so desperately broken, the tendrils of depression have wrapped round him so tightly that he no longer struggles against them.  The picture painted of his is saddening to read, the abuse he receives at the hands of his wife, the loss of his beloved cello bring him real pain, and so coupled with his black outs and hearing voices, make for dark and addictive reading.  Una, Iain’s wife is a character that many readers will delight in disliking, nigh hating.  A cruel and manipulative woman shaped by her upbringing, seems to enjoy inflicting her ways upon her “weak” husband.  In stark contrast to these characters was the wonderful Fergus, a friend of Iain.  He is funny, helpful, supportive but feels very much the the situation between Iain and Una is outwith his capabilities.

The prevailing darkness in this book is almost claustrophobic at times.  The reader feels an urge to keep reading, hoping for a positive outcome for Iain, hoping that something will change despite seeing the escalation in Una’s behaviour, the deeper depressive slump that Iain falls into.  There are times this is a bleak and harrowing read, however Angelena Boden is a skilled writer, she evokes a raft of emotions from her readers including sympathy and compassion.
It is evident that a lot of research has been done for the writing of this novel, the way in which the abuse is written is done so with sensitivity and sympathy, giving a great insight into a world that some may have little knowledge about.

I am astounded that this is Boden’s debut thriller novel and I will be sure to keep an eye out for future books!

You can buy a copy of The Cruelty of Lambs direct from the publisher here or via Amazon here.

 

About the Author:

Angelena has spent over thirty years training, coaching and counselling in the field of interpersonal conflict and communication using Eric Berne’s model of Transactional Analysis. As a linguist, she has lived and worked overseas, travelled extensively and spent periods in Iran where she learned Farsi.

She is the author of three business books, published by Management Pocketbooks Ltd and is a freelance journalist.

A former resident and graduate of Birmingham, the setting for The Cruelty of Lambs, she is a passionate defender of a city she believes is misunderstood.

To find out more about Angelena, visit www.angelenaboden.com or follow her on Twitter @AngelenaBoden

Courtesy of Urbane Publications

 

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Published: 10 November 2016
Reviewed: 11 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Oh come now, Mr Buchanan. When one goes out into the world, one always ends up smelling of something or other.

Fergus Buchanan has led a charmed life: a doting family, a loving sweetheart, and the respect of his neighbors. All is as it should be, and nothing stands between him and the limitless happiness that is his destiny. But then he is sent from his remote island to retrieve the cursing stone, and his adventures in the wild world beyond cause him to question everything he thought he knew. Succeed or fail, nothing will be the same again. This modern quest is a story of courage, duty, and revenge, of family ties and loves lost and found, of dragons and post codes.

My Thoughts & Review:

Adrian Harvey is a new author for me, but happily he’s one that will be appearing on my list to keep an eye out for future books from.  He writes with a flowing ease that carries the reader off into the sprawling beautiful island setting of The Cursing Stone.

There are a wonderful array of characters in this novel, and I felt that I got a great insight into each of them despite there being so many.  The backstories of each family as well as each individual were fantastically rich and thoughtfully woven together.  Being a small island community, there are rivalries, feuds and secrets aplenty, and these are well written so much so that the reader can almost imagine the characters through the various stages of their lives, events shaping the people they would become.

The writing makes for an enjoyable read,  well paced so that in places readers can speed on and gorge themselves on the eloquent prose or as I sometimes found, take time to savour this book and think.  There were moments when reading this that I found myself pausing to ponder what I had read, think about the impacts of events and what may come of them.

A very good read and one that I might not usually opt for, but if I’ve learned anything from Indie publishers this year, it’s not to judge a book by it’s set genre.

You can buy a copy of The Cursing Stone directly from the publisher here or for a kindle version from Amazon here.

 

About the Author:

Since escaping the East Midlands to find his fortune in the big city, Adrian Harvey has combined a career in and around government with trying to see as much of the world as he can. He lives in North London, which he believes to be the finest corner of the world’s greatest city; Being Someone was his first novel, The Cursing Stone his second.

 

 

 

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I am so excited to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for A.L. Michael’s “Be My Baby” and share my review of this lovely book with you.  There’s also a wee giveaway running so be sure to add your entry for the chance to win a goodie bag of healthy foodie treats!

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Published: 7 November 2016
Reviewed: 14 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by HQ Digital as part of the blog tour

 

Description:

Two’s company…

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three’s a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

My Thoughts & Review:

Be My Baby is the third and final instalment of The House on Camden Square series, and if I’m honest, I’m a little sad to be leaving these wonderful characters.  The first books in the series being Goodbye Ruby Tuesday  and Nice Day For A White Wedding (my review of book two can be found here).  Technically this can be read as a stand alone book, there are enough details given so that the reader can understand the character connections etc.

This book focuses on Mollie’s story.  Mollie is a single mum who has been raising her daughter Esme (aged 11 going on 30 it seems, Esme is wise beyond her years).  Mollie is still hurt that her ex Jamie left when she was pregnant with their daughter.  A chance sighting of Mollie on TV promoting her healthy eating for children “Mollie Makes” is enough for Jamie to get in contact.  Through a raft of misunderstandings and the subsequent explanations Mollie agrees that Esme can see her dad so that the pair can work on building a relationship.

As always the characters in this are wonderful, Andi Michael has created such vivid and realistic personas.  Esme is a darling, very much her own person and not one to fit in the mould.  She really comes across as realistic and quite a wise character.  Mollie is a great character, the reader really gets a feel for her struggles as she tries to accept the bond between her daughter and Jamie forming, the fact that she was a lone parent for so long means she finds this hard and it comes across well through the writing.  She’s also quite a humorous character, the dialogue in the opening chapter where she was on a date had me giggling from the get go.
The relationship between mother and daughter was very well written, their bond was strong and the sensitivity shown towards the subject of Jamie’s absence was handled well.

The writing style makes this a joy to read, it’s entertaining, light hearted and witty.  Yes, there are sad moments in the book, but there are humorous ones too.  A nice quick read that keeps a reader interested throughout.

You can buy a copy of Be My Baby here

Don’t forget to add your entry for the giveaway!  The prize is a goodie bag of healthy foodie treats inspired by one of the characters in the novel – closing date for entries is 12th December.

About the Author:

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A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She’s a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she’ll settle for lying on the page.

To find out more about A.L. Michael and her books you can go to her website https://almichael.com or follow her on Twitter @ALMichael_

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Published: 7 November 2016
Reviewed: 28 November 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Canelo in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Warm your heart with this perfect Christmas love story

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s always a treat to read a book written by Darcie Boleyn, there’s a wonderful warmth in her writing, rich characters that you feel are like old friends instead of new acquaintances but best of all the sense of humour that shines through the narrative is just utterly brilliant.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is wonderfully festive tale that the reader can curl up with and enjoy.
With narration from both of the main characters Lucie and Dale the reader gets a great insight into each character and how they feel, and can understand why these two people who are perfect for each other are not a couple (yet).  And by writing in this way, Boleyn ensures that the reader becomes attached to her characters, becomes invested in their stories and feels like they want to keep reading to see how the story evolves.

All of the characters are well written, including the supporting characters.  They are endearing, realistic, and can be infuriating at times especially Lucie who I think many readers would like to give her a wee shake or bash her and Dale’s heads together.
As always, the descriptive qualities in Boleyn’s writing are spot on.  The settings are so vividly described that I could imagine the scenes in New York so clearly, the carriage ride, the hotel suite.

I suppose the only negative thing about this book is it’s over too quickly, a short but lovely read that I was really sad to finish.  I must add that despite it being a short book, the plot is jam packed and utterly engrossing.  It’s a Christmassy feel good book that deserves to be on your reading list every year.

The perfect book to get you feeling festive!

You can buy a copy of A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas here.

 

 

About the Author:

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

For more information about Darcie’s books go to her website or follow her on Twitter @DarcieBoleyn

 

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I am delighted to welcome you to the final stop on the #BecauseOfYou blog tour and share my review of Hélene Fermont’s début novel.

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Published: 15 August 2016
Reviewed: 15 November 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bookollective as part of blog tour

 

Description:

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to. 

Because of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist. 

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction. 

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance. 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first heard about “Because of You” I thought it might be another of those sorts of books that I will pick up as a wee break from dark and twisted thrillers, a change of pace so to speak.

The story follows Hannah Stein, who the reader meets in her teenage years as she prepares to leave home for London on a gap year.  The reader joins Hannah on her journey through life for the next 36 years as she experiences various events such as divorce, grief, love, heartbreak, abuse and death to name but a few.

Hélene Fermont includes some subjects of a sensitive nature in this book, and ones that some readers may feel uncomfortable about, but the writing is sympathetic and care without being gratuitous.

The characters in this feel authentic to the types of people we encounter in life, ones that are invariably various shades of interesting and ones that leave little mark on us.   The development of Hannah’s character throughout the book is well done, in the beginning she came across as very sheltered and naive but after experiencing so many things during the course of her life this changes who she is, shapes her to become a character that many readers will be able to relate to.

I did find that my interest waned slightly at times reading this, perhaps a little too wordy in places, but overall there was enough substance to keep me reading on.  The second half of the novel definitely caught my attention and had me reading quickly to find out what happened.
I have to admit that this did impact on my enjoyment of the read somewhat, finding at times I wanted to put the book down and read something else but felt that I needed to keep working at this.  Overall it is a good read, and an impressive début from a promising author.

You can buy a copy of Because of You here.

About the Author:

Born into a bilingual family (Swedish/English), Hélene Fermont enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city and a major cultural hub.

Growing up in the early 1970s, she enjoyed a brief musical career on Swedish TV and radio before pursuing a rewarding career as a therapist specialising in children with learning difficulties.

Hélene has lived in London for over 20 years but still regularly returns to her native Sweden, where the unspoiled scenery and tranquility help aid the creative process. Hélene is currently hard at work on her second novel.

For more information see Hélene’s website http://helenefermont.com/  or follow her on Twitter @helenefermont


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Published: 14 July 2016
Reviewed: 7 November 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review

 

Description:

We all have secrets…… Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish.

Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms.

Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory.

Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

My Thoughts & Review:

Summer in Tintagel was one of those books that immediately grabbed my attention from the description, something about it screamed “read me!” and I was more than happy to oblige.  This is the first book by Amanda James that I have read, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed her style of writing, and I would be keen to read more books by this author.

This is a genuinely lovely book to read, it’s heart warming romance brings a smile to the face of readers and the vivid descriptions of the settings are utterly breathtaking.  I admit, I did google Tintagel to see if such a place existed when I finished reading this, it does.  If you’ve never been to Cornwall I would suggest looking it up, the images online are exactly how I imagined the village when I was reading, Amanda James transports her readers to the setting with her beautifully descriptive writing.

Characterisation in this is superb, they are realistic and engaging.  Rosa in particular is a lovely character that many readers will feel an an instant liking towards.  The slow journey to self discovery is an emotional one that the reader experiences along with Rosa which helps to strengthen the connection to this character.

The paranormal/otherworldly edge to this is written well, it fits in well with the story and does not seem out of place as I was worried it might.

Pace of the book is good, characters and settings are wonderful, the story is richly atmospheric and the narrative is humorous in the right places.  The real wonder of this book is the skill in the writing, Amanda James effortlessly weaves together a story about relationships between various individuals that cannot fail to capture the heart of readers.

You can buy a copy of Summer in Tintagel here.

About the Author:

Courtesy of Goodreads

Amanda James (aka Mandy) was born in Sheffield and now lives in Bristol with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing, and spending lots of time with her grandson. She also admits to spending far too much time chatting on Twitter and Facebook! Amanda recently left her teaching role to follow her ambition to live her life doing what she most enjoys—writing.

 

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 25 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Tinder Press in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Morgan McCarthy’s THE HOUSE OF BIRDS is a beautiful and bewitching story of love, war and second chances that will be adored by readers of Louisa Young and Virginia Bailey.

Oliver has spent years trying to convince himself that he’s suited to a life of money making in the city, and that he doesn’t miss a childhood spent in pursuit of mystery, when he cycled around the cobbled lanes of Oxford, exploring its most intriguing corners.

When his girlfriend Kate inherits a derelict house – and a fierce family feud – she’s determined to strip it, sell it and move on. For Oliver though, the house has an allure, and amongst the shelves of discarded, leather bound and gilded volumes, he discovers one that conceals a hidden diary from the 1920s.

So begins a quest: to discover the identity of the author, Sophia Louis. It is a portrait of war and marriage, isolation and longing and a story that will shape the future of the abandoned house – and of Oliver – forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

The House of Birds is a beautifully written book with one of the most spectacularly breathtaking covers I’ve seen in a long time.  I am loathe to admit to being a sucker for a pretty cover, but this one really does catch your eye and dares you to ignore it’s alluring charm.

Morgan McCarthy weaves together tales from the past and present so eloquently,  the stories flow well together so that the reader is experiencing the mystery that Oliver is searching for the answers to but also the memories attached to the items within the old house and how they relate to Sophia Louis.
Oliver’s search is captivating reading, the memories he unearths add a richness to both the past and the present.  The interwoven narration from Sophia gives a wonderful insight in to her character, the oppressive societal struggles for women in this time and several emotive topics are written with care and sympathy where necessary, but also detailed to show that McCarthy has done her research to ensure authenticity.   Each character in this has their own appealing qualities (or unappealing as the case may be), they are are carefully and thoughtfully constructed.

The vivid descriptions in this book are spectacular, the detail given about the house means that the reader is more than able to envision the setting clearly.  There is great care given to the description of people also, the description of a young Kate when Oliver sees her cycling on her way home from school conjures a crystal clear image of the young girl, with hair so perfect on her white bike, and the small detail of her catching his eye ‘like a unicorn’ gives the reader a small insight into the flowing prose awaiting them later in the book.

McCarthy’s writing is a delight to read, so natural and expressive which truly makes this a delight to read.

You can buy a copy of The House of Birds here.

 

About the Author:

Morgan McCarthy was born in Berkshire, UK, where she still lives. She has worked in a supermarket, a small independent bookstore, and, most recently, as a media analyst.

You can follow the author on Twitter @MorganMcAuthor

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