Archive for the ‘#QuercusSummer’ Category


The Lavender House

Author: Hilary Boyd
Published: 4 August 2016
Reviewed: 19 August 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club



Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?

My Thoughts & Review:

Lavender House is the final instalment of the Quercus Summer Reads and what a great way to round off a summer of reading.

Having not read any of Boyd’s previous books I had no idea what to expect with this one, for some reason I never seemed to pick up her books when looking for something new to read.

I did struggle slightly with this book, perhaps it was because the protagonist was many years ahead of me in age so I found it difficult to relate to her, or perhaps because I’ve not been in the same situation.

Nancy is left heartbroken and devastated when her husband leaves her for a younger woman.  Thinking she will never find love again she becomes caretaker of her family, looking after her mother, helping her daughter and babysitting her granddaughters become her main focusses in life.  When she meets Jim at a friend’s party, she feels a spark of something she’d long forgotten.

Nancy was a hard character for me to connect with, I desperately wanted her to build her confidence, tell her family to let her make her own decisions and decide where things were going with Jim, but I guess when a person has been so used to putting others before herself it will be hard, near impossible to change overnight.  Jim was an interesting character, coming across as warm and charming but despite that Nancy’s family viewed him as the representation of everything wrong for her.

I read somewhere that Boyd has carved out a niche for ‘love between the older generations’ and I would definitely agree with this, however there are themes in this book that are universal to all age groups – family, love, loyalty, financial constraints and dealing with older parents (perhaps I will take note for future use with my mother!).

The plot moved along well, more of a cosy read than a page turner for me, but it was still an alright read.  Maybe not a book I would pick up myself, but one I might buy for my mother or grandmother.


About the Author


Author information courtesy of wikipedia, image courtesy of Twitter

Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and subsequently as a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate before reading English Literature at London University.  After college, Boyd became a health journalist, writing about depression, step-parenting and pregnancy. She began writing fiction as a hobby whilst raising three children and working at various day jobs including running a cancer charity, Survive Cancer, working for an engineering company, and an online vitamin site.  She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park.  Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd.

To find out more about Hilary’s books follow her on Twitter @HilaryBoyd

Read Full Post »

Florence Grace

Author: Tracy Rees
Published: 30 June 2016
Reviewed: 16 July 2016
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club
4 out of 5 stars

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone. 

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth. 

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

My Thoughts & Review:

As the second offering in the Quercus Summer Reads, I was intrigued to see where this book would take me, and having enjoyed Last Dance in Havana I was hoping for another engrossing and enjoyable read.
From the very first pages you are introduced to a strong and determined character in the haunting setting of the misty moors of Cornwall.  A young Florrie Buckley making her way back from Truro is catapulted from her horse and instead of lamenting her fate, she continues on foot towards home, knowing every inch of the moors through an affinity with nature and the surrounding landscapes.  Her irritation towards the horse and it’s reaction to a pigeon gives the reader a glimpse at the wit and attitude of this feisty character early on.  
What then develops is a tale of coming of age for Florrie, her transformation from teenager to young woman, the discovery of a secret that will change her life and the realisation that she needs to be strong and have courage to overcome what faces her.  Learning to be a member of the London Society in the Victorian era does not come easy for Florrie/Florence, her lessons are strict, punishments are harsh but she shows determination and sheer stubbornness to achieve what is expected of her (eventually).  
The juxtaposed images of Florrie/Florence in Cornwall and London are incredibly well written.  The almost feral Florrie running free on the moors, embracing open space and exhilaration at fresh air jars so fiercely with the Florence in London.  Here she fights for space, she is confined in all senses, a prisoner of the Grace family.  Even a walk in the garden must be done with decorum and decency.  
Initially a bit of a slow read, however, the author does gently create a story that becomes addictive reading.  With wonderful descriptions of scenery, the reader is transported from the atmospheric brooding Cornish moors to the desolate yet claustrophobic home of the Grace family.   
There are some interesting specimens of characters, some incredibly hard to bear any liking towards – manipulative, scheming and utterly abhorrent.  There are also ones that the reader can’t help but take an instant liking towards, feel sympathy for and generally want a good outcome for.  But all characters are meticulously detailed, multilayered and very well thought out.  
Tracy Rees writes superbly,atmospheric and fitting for the time setting.  Her descriptions of fashions and etiquette at the time are well researched and show attention to detail matters.  The story does flow well after the inital heavy start.  Having not realised this was Tracy Rees second book, I was impressed by her writing skills, and will be downloading a copy of her debut novel Amy Snow. 

You can buy a copy of Florence Grace here.   

Read Full Post »

Last Dance in Havana

Author: Rosanna Ley
Published: 19 May 2016
Reviewed: 15 June 2016
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club
4.5 out of 5 Stars

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulder to cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

 My Thoughts & Review:
The moment the Rumba is introduced in this book I knew I’d be held captive by the little details.  The meaning of the dance and the symbolism it holds are beautifully detailed by Ley, you can almost feel the beat of the music, the swell of the bodies rhythmically following the beat of the band, it’s intoxicating, addictive and hard to believe its a novel and not a holiday guide!   
Following the stories of Elisa and her stepdaughter Grace, Rosanna Ley weaves us expertly back and forth between Cuba in 1958 and Bristol in 2012.  
Elisa emerging into womanhood finds love at a dance, she meets Duardo, an aspiring rebel, and within moments of them dancing the rumba she knows she is is love with him.  But as the troubles intensify, the fighting takes it toll on families in Cuba and Elisa’s family make the decision to move to England to start a new life.  We follow Elisa’s life in England in 2012 but dip back into her past as she recounts those days in Cuba before leaving, the beginnings of her life in England and how she came to be part of Grace’s family. 
Fast forward to 2012 and Grace is struggling with relationships of her own.  The relationship with her father is rapidly deteriorating, having never forgiven him for the death of her mother, his alcohol abuse has become another barrier between them.  As she grapples with her husband’s desperate desire to start a family, she becomes increasingly aware of the chemistry between her and Theo, their best friend and the more she fights it, the more intense the feelings become.  
Through the tales of the two women we are to discover love, sadness and longing.  Both want something they cannot have, have lost people they have deeply loved and cared for, but most of all, they long to find what makes them happyfor one it’s being home, it‘s a person that is home and for the other, it’s a special someoneAll of the characters are incredibly realistic, very well written and some of them really make you stop and think, Elisa putting everyone’s needs and happiness before her own is just one example.  The only character I didn’t really take much of a liking to was Robbie, Grace’s husband, but for obvious reason He has to be sacrificed to allow Grace’s story to evolve, and as we only see him through the eyes of Grace it is no wonder that he can be a bit wearing at times.  
The sensitivity shown by Ley towards Philip was very well written.  He lost his beloved wife in a car accident and at the same time his young daughter began to hate him and blame him for the loss of her mother.  He turns to alcohol, feeling it is the only option open to him and struggles on through life, wishing he could reconnect with his daughter but also not push away his new wife Elisa.  The sadness of his tale knits almost poetically with the tales of Elisa and Grace, all are struggling with secrets, all are held back by something and desperately need to move on.    
Ley‘s writing is truly beautiful, she brings Cuba alive with dynamic tenacity, giving the reader a glimpse of the charm of Cuba – the colours, the sights, the atmosphere.  But also, taking the time to include the details of the darker times, the marred history, the struggles faced, this really gives a complete picture of the country – warts and all if you will.  
Another area I found the attention to detail impressive was when describing Grace’s massage therapy work – the techniques used, the use of sound and aromatherapy oils etc show that Ley has gone the extra mile to give her readers as much detail as possible and this added to my enjoyment of the book.  
This is a fantastic summer read, you can almost feel the heat of the Cuban sun through the writing, you can imagine the winding streets and views of Bristol that Elisa and Grace wander whilst thinking But best of all, you can pick up this book and becomes lost in it, it’s vibrant, realistic, entertaining and utterly wonderful!
You can buy a copy of Last Dance in Havana here.

Read Full Post »


Writing for Kids

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea


A friendly space for all horror, mystery & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Berit Talks Books

“I'm just a girl, standing in front of a book hoping I will love it.”

Yvonne - Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Blogger-Book Blogger–Book Reviews of Bestsellers & Indie Authors

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual


Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things bookish...